Men­tal health dis­clo­sures queried

The Press - - National News | Politics - Felix Des­marais

The Green Party is set to in­ves­ti­gate claims that em­ploy­ers, in­clud­ing a gov­ern­ment min­istry, are in­clud­ing ques­tions about men­tal health on job ap­pli­ca­tions.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which be­gan yes­ter­day, will al­low peo­ple to sub­mit their sto­ries of po­ten­tial dis­crim­i­na­tion when ap­ply­ing for jobs.

Greens’ men­tal health spokes­woman Chloe Swar­brick has been ‘‘blown away’’ by the num­ber of peo­ple who have been ques­tioned about their men­tal health while ap­ply­ing for work.

‘‘There is a sur­pris­ing num­ber of peo­ple who re­ported hav­ing been asked on their job ap­pli­ca­tions, whether it’s at the in­ter­view stage or on the ap­pli­ca­tion forms, to de­clare their men­tal health his­tory. I want to get to the bot­tom of it and see what kind of re­sponse we can have leg­isla­tively or cul­ture-wise.’’

She said it seemed par­tic­u­larly preva­lent in the pub­lic sec­tor and wor­ried the prac­tice could lead to po­ten­tial dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Men­tal Health Foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Shaun Robin­son wel­comed the Greens’ sur­vey, and said he hoped it would en­cour­age peo­ple to talk about their ex­pe­ri­ences of men­tal health in the work­place – both good and bad.

Yes­ter­day Stuff found on­line job ap­pli­ca­tion forms at the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade that asked about ap­pli­cants’ men­tal health sta­tus. The ap­pli­ca­tion said if in­for­ma­tion was in­cor­rect, mis­lead­ing or omit­ted, the per­son might be dis­qual­i­fied from get­ting the job or fired.

A min­istry spokesper­son said MFAT was an equal op­por­tu­ni­ties em­ployer, and it op­er­ated in a ‘‘unique en­vi­ron­ment’’ where roles re­quired se­cu­rity clear­ance, and that was why the ques­tion was in­cluded.

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