Firms asked to address workers’ mental health amid pandemic, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Firms asked to address workers’ mental health amid pandemic

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Firms urged to take proactive steps to look after workers' well-being amid pandemic

With lines between the workplace and home getting blurred during the Covid-19 pandemic, employers have been advised to address the mental health needs of their workers who are under more stress and facing a higher risk of burnout.

An advisory issued yesterday called on companies to recognise the need for their staff to have adequate rest outside work hours.

This can be done by establishing a work-life harmony policy to offer clarity on after-hours work communication, said the advisory, which was jointly released by the tripartite partners: the Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation.

The recommendations come a month after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that an inter-agency task force has been convened to tackle the mental health needs of Singaporeans. He said the pandemic has brought about more stresses, pressures and disruptions.

It has also led many workplaces to adopt work-from-home arrangements as the norm, leading to employees feeling more stressed and putting them at a higher risk of burnout, the tripartite partners said.

They encouraged employers to organise talks and workshops on the issue, and train managers to spot signs of distress, and offer help to their colleagues.

Companies were advised to extend employees' flexible benefits to cover mental health-related consultations and treatments, or offer workers access to counselling services such as employee-assistance programmes.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, who introduced the advisory at the start of the Singapore Workplace Safety and Health Conference 2020 yesterday, said the pandemic will be a long-drawn battle, and urged employers and workers to adopt the recommendations.

"While the future remains uncertain as the world continues to battle Covid-19, let us not lose sight of our goals," she added. "It is timely for the Government, unions, businesses and workers to come together and collectively chart a future where everyone can bounce back."

NTUC assistant secretary-general Melvin Yong said the advisory will "help to reassure workers that safeguards are in place to support their mental well-being".

Workplace Safety and Health Council chairman John Ng added that the advisory will help employers to take proactive steps to look after their workers' mental health, "so that they are able to stay focused at work, work safely and stay healthy".

"In turn, employers will benefit from a healthy and productive workforce which can contribute to better business performance," he added.