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DOLE prohibits discrimination against workers with mental health condition

DOLE prohibits discrimination against workers with mental health condition

Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) – February 17, 2020 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Terminating an employee due to his or her mental health condition is now prohibited, as long as the condition does not interfere with the performance of the job or affect the safety of others, according to a new order issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Under newly issued guidelines for the implementation of mental health workplace policies and programs in the private sector, the DOLE said a worker shall not be terminated from work on the basis of “actual, perceived or suspected mental health condition.”

The department order issued last Feb. 11 is based mainly on The Mental Health Act of 2018 and the Magna Carta of Persons with Disability (Republic Acts 11036 and 9442, respectively) and takes effect 15 days after publication.

The law requires that there shall be no discrimination in any form against workers at risk of developing or who are found to have a mental health condition.

This means that workers shall not be discriminated from hiring, promotion, and/or other benefits of employment because of their mental condition, the DOLE said.

However, it stressed that such a condition of a worker should not interfere with the performance of the job or unduly affect the safety of co-workers and the general public.

“Unless the condition progresses to such severity that it affects a worker’s own safety or safety of co-worker and work performance and productivity upon certification issued by a competent public health expert on mental health, a worker cannot be terminated from work,” the DOLE said.

It also said that the fitness to work of an individual found to have a mental health condition shall be determined by an occupational health physician after appropriate medical evaluation.

The DOLE said the company policy on confidentiality shall be clearly communicated to the worker and this covers results of neuropsychological tests.

On the part of workers, the DOLE encourages them to disclose any medical or mental health condition for the purpose of reasonable accommodation.

Employers may adopt a flexible leave arrangement or rescheduling of working hours to accommodate a worker with mental health condition, but it must be clearly explained to the worker, preferably in the presence of a family member.

Absences of workers undergoing treatment and rehabilitation shall be charged to their leave credits or they may use other regulated leaves.

If the worker with mental health condition has exhausted his or her leave credits, then the medical leave incurred shall be without pay.

A worker may resume work while undergoing treatment upon the certification of an occupational health doctor.

DOLE regional offices shall enforce compliance to the new guidelines to all workplaces and establishments in the private sector.

“Any violation in the guidelines shall be dealt with in accordance with existing labor laws and regulations,” the DOLE said.

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