One way to promote fair treatment of vulnerable people is to develop a set of employment guidelines. However, for guidelines to work there must be a common understanding and acceptance of the fundamental principles being applied and of the situation or medical condition being addressed (Workplace discrimination: Disputes best solved amicably, Nov 5).
There are two fundamental principles that should stand behind our efforts to improve
the employment prospects of people with disabilities, chronic illnesses such as epilepsy and mental health issues.
A greater awareness in society of the needs of people with epilepsy, beyond seizure control, and a plea for them to be listened to, must be taken seriously. Many people with epilepsy are unnecessarily restricted in their choice of employment due to ignorance about the condition and the stigma associated with it.
First, people with epilepsy and disabilities, and others with their specific concerns, should have the same rights as others to equal opportunity in training and employment.
Second, these people should be regarded as having equal value. That is to say, talents are developed and weaknesses compensated for.
These fundamental principles protect society from the danger of generalisation. From here, it is possible to develop a set of employment guidelines to promote the fair treatment of people with disabilities and others. The first thing that is needed is to have an agreed understanding of what the disability is and the problems that it may create at work.
The issues faced by someone with epilepsy are diverse and individual.
We encourage employers to include principles of good practice that will lead to individualised solutions that help to avoid the employment problems that are created by stigma and ignorance.
We look forward to having a society where diversity, equity and inclusiveness are valued.
Goh Keng Hwee
Epilepsy Care Group Singapore