Oral Reply to Parliamentary Question on Employment of the Differently-Abled

06 March 2019

Oral Reply to Parliamentary Question on Employment of the Differently-Abled

Parliamentary Sitting: 6 March 2019

Ms Anthea Ong:
To ask the Prime Minister (a) what is the current employment rate of the differently-abled, including persons-in-recovery from mental health conditions, in the public service; (b) what support structures are in place to ensure upgrading and retention of these employees; and (c) how can the public service as the largest employer change the mindset amongst employers to take advantage of the Open Door Programme and employment credits to support more employment of our differently-abled. 

Oral Reply by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade & Industry and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service.

As at 31 Dec 2018, there are more than 300 persons with special needs employed in the Public Service. We do not track the number of officers who are recovering from mental health conditions. 

As an inclusive employer, the Public Service is committed to supporting the employment of persons with special needs to take on meaningful jobs in accordance with their abilities. Public agencies have been working closely with SG Enable to drive the hiring of persons with special needs in the Public Service. Our efforts include advertising suitable vacancies on SG Enable’s job portal and participating in career fairs and programmes such as job shadowing, internship and mentorship organised by SG Enable. Agencies can also tap on SG Enable’s Workplace Disability Inclusive Index, advisory and consultancy services, attend disability management workshops and training, or access SG Enable’s online resources.

Once these individuals are in our employment, public agencies also work with SG Enable to train and integrate them into the organisations through employee training, workplace modifications and job redesign. For instance, MCCY had installed magnifier software and equipment to help two officers with special needs read documents on the computer screen and in hard copies more clearly and easily. MOM had also modified its workplace to improve wheelchair accessibility for an officer with limited physical mobility and provided a modified telephone and headset to enable her to make and receive phone calls with greater ease.

Beyond tapping on the support schemes provided by SG Enable, the Public Service is also committed to providing opportunities for our officers with special needs to develop their skills and enhance their ability to perform work in different areas. One example is Vital, which employs a number of persons with special needs in the Payroll and Claims division. Initially, these officers were assigned duties in claims verification. Once they were familiar with claims verification, they were exposed to payroll processing and eventually were able to take on work in this area as well.

Our officers with special needs are also given a fair chance to be considered for promotion, if they demonstrate good performance and the ability to take on a larger role. In fact, more than 70% of the officers with special needs in the Civil Service had been promoted at least once. 

We hope that our commitment to supporting the employment of differently-abled individuals, and the positive experience that we have had doing so, will encourage other employers to come on board in this effort. To this end, some of our public agencies like MOM and GovTech have worked with SG Enable to feature some of our officers with special needs in their outreach efforts.