THE DEPARTMENT of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has issued guidelines for employers to ensure mental health and well-being in the workplace.

In Department Order No. 208 series of 2020 signed Feb. 11, DoLE said the order is authorized by Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Act which was signed into law in 2018.

“It is mandatory for all workplaces and establishments to formulate a Mental health workplace policy and program,” according to the order.

These programs must prevent stigma and discrimination against workers who are experiencing or are at risk of mental health disorders and provide services to address this. Employers should also promote their employees’ well-being and also incorporate wellness policies in their current occupational safety and health (OSH) policies.

The advisory also bans discrimination in hiring, promotion, and other employment benefits based on their mental state. Employers are also prohibited from terminating employees with mental health as a pretext unless the severity of the worker’s condition poses safety risks. This risk must be validated by a mental-health professional.

The order also urges companies who use a health maintenance organization (HMO) to include mental health services in their HMO packages.

These programs should be monitored by the company’s OSH committee and should be performed annually or as often as needed.

Work accommodations and arrangements should be agreed upon by the employer and worker as long as the employee’s condition does not affect work output. — Gillian M. Cortez