In brief

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recommends employers adopt the practical guidance set out in the recently formulated Tripartite Advisory on Mental Well-Being at Workplaces (Recommendations), issued jointly by the MOM, the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation (collectively, the Tripartite Partners). The Tripartite Partners recognise that work stressors (possibly contributed to by work-from-home and split team arrangements) as a factor associated with poor mental and note the year-on-year increase in Singaporeans experiencing a mental disorder in their lifetime.

Recommended actions

Depending on the employer’s readiness and available resources, the Tripartite Partners suggest that employers implement the Recommendations at three levels:

  • individual employees
  • team and department level
  • organisation level

to avoid a negative working environment, which could lead to physical and mental health challenges, or work stressors which would adversely affect, or even harm, employees’ mental well-being.

We summarise below the Recommendations which employers should adopt at each level. We would be happy to review your hiring, performance appraisal, employee support, dispute resolution and termination practices to ensure your workplace compliance with the various Tripartite guidelines, practices and standards.

1. Individual employees

Employers should:

  • appoint mental wellness champions to raise employees’ awareness on mental well-being and mental health conditions, and educate employees on stress management and emotional regulation, referring to similar programmes such as the Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) Workplace Outreach Wellness Package or the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council’s Total WSH Programme
  • provide access to, and encourage use of, professional confidential counselling service for employees to speak on work and non-work related challenges, a list of such Employee Assistance Programmes set out in Annex A of the Recommendations
  • consider extending the scope of flexible employee to include mental well-being programmes, mental health consultations and treatments

2. Team and department

Employers should:

  • provide training, such as HPB’s Mental Health Training Workshops, to managers and Human Resource to identify signs of mental distress, and on the resources available to such distressed employees to seek help from, some of which are provided in the annexures to the Recommendations
  • foster a psychologically safe and trusting work environment, and destigmatise negative associations around mental health challenges, by ensuring that:
    • supervisors schedule regular assessments of employees; mental well-being and reviews of their workloads and
    • where an employee share their mental health challenge, the supervisors responds sensitively with assurance that their challenge will be kept confidential and will not be documented
  • strengthen social support systems, including informal peer support programmes and bonding activities, as well escalation protocols for professional help

3. Organisation

Employers should:

  • regularly review the state of employees’ mental well-being by:
    • conducting surveys of risk assessment for workplace health (for example using the iWorkHealth 1.0 online, the self-administered psychosocial health assessment tool)
    • implementing measures addressing survey findings, e.g. upstream organisational changes to remove the source of the work stressor or minimise employees’ exposure to the stressor
    • tracking the effectiveness of these measures, e.g. by monitoring proxy indicators such as rates of absenteeism and medical leave
  • ensure policies on hiring and appraisals are non-discriminatory and merit-based. Please see our Alert: Ministry of Manpower enforces fair and progressive employment practices against discriminatory employers for examples of discriminatory job advertisements and the recommended fair hiring practices. Employers should also refer to the standards for evaluating job performance set out in the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices. Employees should be provided an internal channel allowing for anonymous feedback and the resolution of disputes relating to practices that erode mental well-being
  • implement and encourage flexible work arrangements (FWAs) to help employees meet both their work and personal demands, detailed examples of such FWAs provided in the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Practices work life harmony site
  • establish after-hours policy for work communication to show understanding of employees’ need for proper rest outside of work hours
  • establish return-to-work policies to support employees who are recovering from mental health conditions