The Philippines Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued guidance to employers and workers to implement mental health policies and programs to comply with the Mental Health Act or RA11036. The Department Order No. 208, signed on 11 February 2020, applies to employers in the formal sector, including those that deploy overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
The Mental Health Act was enacted on 5 July 2018, requiring employers to develop policies, procedures and mental health resources aimed at reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with mental conditions, as well as providing support for individuals with mental health conditions. In February, the DOLE published Department Order No. 208 with guidelines for all private sector workplaces to implement a Mental Health Workplace Policy and Program. Components of a mental health program include advocacy, education, training, work accommodation, confidentiality of information, disclosure of medical or mental condition, compensation and benefits.
Employers must submit their Mental Health Workplace Policy and Program to their regional DOLE office. They may seek assistance in the formulation and implementation of the program from the labor department, Department of Health and other organizations that deliver mental health services. The mental health program should be prepared by the organization’s management and employee representatives and should be included in the company’s occupational safety and health (OSH) program.
- Develop, implement, monitor and evaluate mental health workplace policies and programs. They may seek assistance from mental health service providers.
- Develop and implement programs with reporting mechanisms to address and prevent bullying such as cyber bullying/mobbing, verbal, sexual and physical harassment, all forms of work-related violence, threats, shaming, alienation and other forms of discrimination which may lead to a mental health problem.
- Ensure there are adequate resources to implement and sustain mental health workplace programs.
- Ensure they provide the necessary training to OSH personnel and Human Resource Officers who will develop, implement and monitor the mental health workplace policies and programs.
- Provide the necessary work accommodation when needed.
- Develop mechanisms for referral of workers at risk of developing or with mental health condition for appropriate management.
- Ensure compliance to all requirements of existing legislations and guidelines related thereto.
Failure to implement an approved plan could result in an administrative fine of up to PhP 40,000.
Employers should review any current occupational safety and health programs or policies regarding mental health in view of the DOLE guidelines and establish a compliant Mental Health Workplace Policy and Program. Once drafted, the policy should be submitted to their regional DOLE office.
As part of their mental health plan, employers should review their current coverage and consider adding an EAP component to their medial plan upon renewal.