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The Singapore perspective

The Singapore perspective

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 05 Apr 2021

Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang said in Parliament last month that the Government will look at the experiences of other countries, such as Britain and Australia, which have introduced flexible work arrangement laws.

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the share of firms in Singapore which offer at least one flexible work arrangement (FWA) on a formal basis rose from 53 per cent in 2019 to 78 per cent last year.

That is according to a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Conditions of Employment survey conducted in the middle of last year.

The majority of employers (56 per cent) also offered ad hoc teleworking last year, a 36 percentage point increase from 2019.

In fact, the provision of flexi-work options was deemed so good that MOM's partners administering the Work-Life Grant - a financial incentive for companies to implement FWAs - stopped accepting applications for the grant last August.

Other surveys conducted in the last quarter of last year by recruitment firm Randstad, as well as enterprise software company Lark and consumer research firm Milieu Insight, suggest most workers here hope to continue enjoying FWAs even as more workers are allowed to return to the office.

Such arrangements are not mandatory in Singapore. Employers, labour unions and the Government have however worked together to set "tripartite standards" on FWAs. These are best practices that employers can publicly commit to. As at January this year, 8,600 employers have adopted the tripartite standard on FWAs.

That means they commit to, among other things, appointing a member of the senior management to champion FWAs and training supervisors to appraise staff on such arrangements fairly based on work outcomes.

Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang said in Parliament last month that the Government will look at the experiences of other countries, such as Britain and Australia, which have introduced FWA laws.

In Britain, all employees who have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks have the legal right to request flexible working.

In Australia, certain employees, such as parents, older workers or people experiencing domestic violence, who have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months, can request FWAs.

Ms Gan said there is a need to ensure both employees' and employers' interests are represented as Singapore decides on the steps for the longer term.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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