Rethink is campaigning for a change in the law to prevent employers asking whether a job applicant is disabled until after an offer is made.
Mental health charity says giving candidates with mental health problems the right to delay declaring their condition until after they are successful is necessary to tackle the discrimination they face in the job market.
The proposal is intended to increase the employment rate of adults with mental illness, which is an estimated one in five – among the lowest of any impairment category.
According to Rethink, this is largely due to employers’ fear and ignorance, with 60% of bosses admitting they would not consider hiring someone with mental health problems, according to a government survey.
The charity said people with mental health problems had the highest rate of wanting to work among disabled people.
As part of the charity’s Breaking Down the Wall campaign, the organisation’s parliamentary officers will begin lobbying ministers and MPs from the three main parties during the party conference season in September.
They want the amendment to be included in the Equality Bill, due in the 2008-9 parliamentary session, which is designed to streamline the law on equality, including by banning age discrimination in the provision of goods and services.
The campaign is being backed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
An RCP spokesperson said: “The lack of attention given to psychiatric disabilities means disability law has been developed more with physical disabilities in mind.”
Your comments on disclosure of mental health problems
● mandy “Every time I do a [disability disclosure] form I hope that it won’t affect my application, despite the regulations etc, but I’ve had too many bad experiences to really believe it.”
● Elwing “I was lucky enough to be employed by a charity who saw my impending recovery as a therapeutic tool I could use with clients – showing them that their disabilities could be overcome with positive support.”