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Is the Public Sector really equal opportunity

By 23 January 2012 18

G’day,

I have a question for all the Public service Riot readers out there.  Is working for the APS really equal opportunity in regards to having a disability?  More specifically a mental illness?  A friend of mine is attempting to gain employment as an APS 1 or 2 but she is not sure whether to disclose the fact that she suffers from General Anxiety Disorder.

I have advised her not to because I work for a certain company that is part (local, ACT gov) government owned,  like my friend I also suffer from a condition.   I made the mistake of disclosing it to my employer quite a while ago (lower level manager) and it has just made my job a lot harder due to discrimination and just simple misunderstanding.  In my previous jobs I never disclosed my problem and it just made things so much easier.  I never thought that I would be treated the way I have when my performance is good and customer service delivery is great,  especially from such a large apparently ‘PC’ organisation.

So honestly,  should my friend disclose it on the application or not?  Will they look at the application and just throw it away because it may mean she *might* be a little bit extra trouble in regards to needing the occasional help from HR?  Any help would be appreciated…

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18 Responses to Is the Public Sector really equal opportunity
#1
harvyk15:31 pm, 23 Jan 12

Will the disability affect your friends ability to do the job? Will the potential employer be in any way disadvantaged due to your friends disability? (extra correspondence with HR doesn’t really count) If not, don’t include it.

There are laws which are meant to prevent discrimination, but actually proving discrimination is difficult, so unless it will affect your friends ability to do a job, I see no reason why they’d need to divulge additional, not needed information which can only be used to discredit your friend.

#2
MWF6:10 pm, 23 Jan 12

The only time your friend must disclose her medical condition is at the pre-employment medical screening which occurs AFTER an offer of employment has been made.

At the pre-employment medical screening all your friend needs to do is advise the medical practitioner of their condition and also how it is managed – medication, CBT etc.

You wrote: “I have advised her not to because I work for a certain company that is part (local, ACT gov) government owned, like my friend I also suffer from a condition. I made the mistake of disclosing it to my employer quite a while ago (lower level manager) and it has just made my job a lot harder due to discrimination and just simple misunderstanding.”

” I never thought that I would be treated the way I have when my performance is good and customer service delivery is great, especially from such a large apparently ’PC’ organisation.”

Keep an eye out over your own shoulder. Just because an organisation is owned by a government does not mean that the organisation will treat employees in a ‘PC’ manner.

#3
Thumper6:22 pm, 23 Jan 12

Of course, if you lie, then they have every reason to sack you on the spot.

Just putting that out there….

#4
Paulanski6:49 pm, 23 Jan 12

Tell your friend not to worry about it.

#5
el7:40 pm, 23 Jan 12

There’s absolutely no need for it to be disclosed during the initial application stages.

#6
miz7:44 pm, 23 Jan 12

I wouldn’t call it ‘discrimination’ exactly, but there is certainly stigma associated with mental disorders and illness.

I reckon if your friend thinks it might affect her job performance (ie would prevent her from doing certain tasks, she is likely to frequently need time off for medical reasons, etc), then yes, it should be disclosed. Otherwise she could win the job more or less under false pretences.

However, if the condition is well-managed and unlikely to be an issue at work, then there is no need.

#7
jayskette8:46 pm, 23 Jan 12

If the disability precludes you from doing your job properly of course the employer reserves the right to not employ you. Who has ever heard of a wheelchair bound person working in underground mines, for example?

GAD can be very well managed and hidden.

#8
harvyk18:59 pm, 23 Jan 12

Thumper said :

Of course, if you lie, then they have every reason to sack you on the spot.

Just putting that out there….

You do not have to divulge anything of a medical or personal nature unless that information directly relates to your ability to do the required job.

You are well within your rights to say you don’t have any medical conditions if they do not directly relate to your ability to carry out your job, even if you do have an unrelated medical condition.

Of course you are free to divulge that information if you wish.

#9
Clear_waters10:12 pm, 23 Jan 12

Im in the PBS and would hire a person with a disability if they were the best person for the Job. The problem in my area is the numbers game. We advertised for an APS two Job and received 106 applications, so there is plenty of competition out there. In the end there was a clear winner had experience, had a clear ability to present their knowledge against a criteria and they interviewed well. I really think 75% of the applicants could have done a very good job.

#10
Thumper10:26 pm, 23 Jan 12

harvyk1 said :

Thumper said :

Of course, if you lie, then they have every reason to sack you on the spot.

Just putting that out there….

You do not have to divulge anything of a medical or personal nature unless that information directly relates to your ability to do the required job.

You are well within your rights to say you don’t have any medical conditions if they do not directly relate to your ability to carry out your job, even if you do have an unrelated medical condition.

Of course you are free to divulge that information if you wish.

Or you can lie if they ask you about any medical conditions.

#11
HenryBG10:34 pm, 23 Jan 12

You’d have to be nuts to advertise a mental condition when applying for a job.

#12
matt3122110:36 pm, 23 Jan 12

Thank you all for help. I shall simply get my friend to look at this thread now.

So she needs to figure out whether GAD would effect her ability to do her job. Quite honestly speaking from my own experience, even if my condition would effect me doing a job slightly I would still apply and not mention it because what am I going to do? Not go out and get a job and end up bludging off Centre-link benefits? Or keep learning from my mistakes till I am on par ?

I should mention that sometimes having a disability can make you do your job better. In my case I am an electrician, and suffer from OCD. You would think going back and double checking to see if a door is locked would be a disadvantage, or obsessing about a safety issue would be a negative. Not so in the electrical world, I may take a few extra minutes per job but I double check the safety and quality of all the work I have done. Sometimes I will have an obsessive hunch about an aspect of an installation that I didn’t do, and I will inspect it and find something that could become quite dangerous. Some bosses that I have had have got the s***s with me because I have taken a bit longer but the client is always stoked because they know they get quality and safety.

Thanks again for the info.

#13
HenryBG7:15 am, 24 Jan 12

matt31221 said :

In my case I am an electrician, and suffer from OCD. You would think going back and double checking to see if a door is locked would be a disadvantage, or obsessing about a safety issue would be a negative. Not so in the electrical world, I may take a few extra minutes per job but I double check the safety and quality of all the work I have done. Sometimes I will have an obsessive hunch about an aspect of an installation that I didn’t do, and I will inspect it and find something that could become quite dangerous. Some bosses that I have had have got the s***s with me because I have taken a bit longer but the client is always stoked because they know they get quality and safety.
.

That’s awesome that you’re in a line of work where something that could be a frustration turns into an asset.

#14
The_TaxMan8:11 am, 24 Jan 12

I am identified in my workplace as a person with a disability and have worked in the APS for 21 years (guess which Dept) but I did not disclose any issues until I had been here for over 10 years.
If the condition impacts the ability to undertake the duties of a APS officer then yes, if not definately NO.

#15
amycatwiz10:28 am, 24 Jan 12

Personally, I work in ACT Government and also have GAD. I disclose it in all of my interviews (usually in the “what are your strengths/weaknesses” type question) . Personally I never feel like it has had an impact – I have been offered positions after most interviews. I usually tell my managers too and they are good at understanding if I need to go for a walk to calm myself. Of course – that will differ from person to person.

I believe that my GAD, while meaning I tend to worry to much, also means that I am driven to do my best at any task I am allocated. Sometimes when it isn’t managed, it may mean I am sick for a day, but I don’t think that’s much different to other people. Also – studies show that people with disability actually tend to take less sick days than other employees.

The ACT Government has just brought out a policy on employing people with disability – so it is probably not a bad thing to bring it up.

Good luck!

#16
Someonesmother2:09 pm, 24 Jan 12

Say nothing, disclose nothing. IMHO I think that being Indigenous, being over 30 or having a disability is a hindrance to employment or promotion.

#17
dundle10:08 am, 25 Jan 12

I wouldn’t mention it because I don’t think it’s relevant – it might lead to stigma but I just don’t think it’s important so they’d wonder why you’re mentioning it. Could bring it up at pre-employment medical.

I know an APS1 who claims he was specifically hired because of his autism under some opportunity thing. I assume he’s telling the truth.

Is it 20 or 25% of people who have some sort of mental condition at one point or another? I know so many People in the APS who have or have had depression or anxiety or something…It’s super common and IMO not normally the sort of thing you need to mention or which would be held against you.

#18
cantdance8:21 pm, 27 Jan 12

I have GAD also. On a daily basis it’s not been a problem, but every now and then something crops up that starts a bit of a panic attack. I told my superiors about this only recently, having been employed for 7 years and they were fine about it. My direct boss asked me why I didn’t tell her earlier, she said she was sad to think I had suffered privately for such a long time.

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