By 2024, All Employees’ Request for Flexible Work Arrangement Must Be Assessed

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If you’re part of the group in Singapore who has absolutely loved working from home throughout the past two years, whether it be because it’s easier for you to care for issues at home or other reasons, this will definitely be music to your ears.

Employers must assess all staff requests pertaining to flexible work arrangements “fairly and sensibly” by 2024, and there will be a set of guidelines for employers to follow as well.


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However, employers will be allowed to take their company’s needs into consideration when deciding whether or not they will adopt the flexible arrangements.

How Flexible Working Arrangements Have Benefited Us

According to the White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development, which was released yesterday (28 March), nine in ten employees from 25 to 64 years old had access to the flexible working arrangements (FWAs) that they needed in 2020.

This statistic is a large improvement from 2014, when only six in ten workers had the same kind of access.

Additionally, 73% of companies that currently provide FWAs also agreed that they will likely continue to offer this option for employees even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

63% of companies also said that they would allow employees who are able to work from home to do so for at least 50% of the time.

Just pray that your boss is part of the majority lah.

In the interim scheme that the government will be carrying out, the government has said that it aims to raise the number of employers who utilise a “voluntary tripartite standard on flexible work arrangements”.


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Currently, 27% of employees benefit from this scheme. The government intends to raise that value to 40% by the end of this year.

Also, just pray that you’re part of the 40% lah.

The scheme will aid in increasing the impact of various efforts that “support work life harmony” and “encourage a greater utilisation of parental leave”, and will start with the public sector.

Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang told The Straits Times, “Flexible work arrangements or FWAs will remain a key feature of our workplaces well after the pandemic is over. This is a win-win situation for employers and employees.

“FWAs benefit both women and men, and will enable those with caregiving responsibilities to continue working or return to work. In this way, employers can access a wider talent pool. FWAs will also help employers transform their businesses to be future-ready, as well as better attract and retain talent.”

Guidelines for Flexible Working Hours

The Tripartite Advisory on FWAs will help companies in planning how to introduce these initiatives.

Currently, there are three sets of tripartite standards. They pertain to FWAs, work-life harmony, as well as unpaid leave for unexpected care needs that recognise employers who implement recommended practices on their own accord.

In 2021, the Alliance for Action on Work-Life Harmony urged the community, employers and employees to take ownership of strengthening their work-life harmony.

They did so by conducting knowledge-sharing Communities of Practice sessions and collaborating with others to come up with useful resources that encourage employers to initiate work-life practices at their workplaces.

Other Guidelines

Apart from the tripartite standards for FWAs, work-life harmony and unpaid leave, the White Paper also proposed to enshrine the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP) in law.

These guidelines will support employees who face workplace discrimination and harassment to speak up about their experiences. The guidelines will also offer them safety in terms of ensuring their confidentiality, as well as providing them with protection against possible retaliation from others.

So basically there’s someone to help you if you kena bully at work lah.

Additionally, companies have also been encouraged to implement grievance handling processes, and also to ensure that their employees have a “fair and safe environment” to speak up about their experiences with discrimination or harassment within the company.


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“With legislation, we will broaden the range of remedies and penalties, and have more effective enforcement,” Ms Gan mentioned.

“However, we have to scope the legislation carefully, so that it provides greater protection and assurance to workers while guarding against a litigious workplace culture.”

Even though legislation will be implemented by the end of this year to allow those negatively affecting others in workplaces to be dealt with properly, the government also acknowledged that mediation is still the “better” method in order to ensure that the relationship between employer and employee does not get soured.

Ms Gan also noted the Tripartite Committee on Workplace Fairness has been communicating with a variety of stakeholders in order to improve their plans, and that the committee aims to share its recommendations later this year.

How This Benefits Women in Particular

Even though we’re living in the 21st century, there are still lots of things that can be done to make our society fairer for women, and that’s something that TGFEP will aim to achieve in the upcoming months (and years) as well.


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Apart from how enshrining the TGFEP in law will benefit everyone in society, Ms Gan also brought up how it will send a particularly strong sign that unfair employment practices of all forms, including against women, will not be tolerated anywhere in local workplaces.

The Singaporean government will also look into providing working women and those who are looking to re-enter the workforce with career mentorship resources, networking opportunities and training programmes.

With the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Workforce Singapore collaborating with a variety of partners, particularly women’s organisations, more women will be able to benefit from this scheme. This will allow them to better seek out jobs and improve their skillsets.

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Apart from that, the Singapore Exchange Listing Rules and Practice Guidance on the Code of Corporate Governance were also updated to increase the level of board diversity, and this will include gender diversity.

This will thus allow for greater representation of women in leadership roles, allowing women to better overcome the deeply rooted stereotypes that often work against females’ favour.


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Following that, the Council for Board Diversity will also continue working on various initiatives that will help raise the representation of women on different boards across the country.

Regarding the White Paper and the issues that it discussed, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) president Mary Liew mentioned, “We are heartened by the progressiveness of the action plans shown in the White Paper. NTUC has been championing the rights of women since the 1970s and has created many programmes and initiatives such as the Back to Work Programme in 2006 to support women in the workplace through the decades.

“The NTUC women’s committee was also one of the first groups to champion for flexible work arrangements in the 1990s, and we have since been engaging our tripartite partners closely to further our outreach for the implementation of flexible work arrangements, which we hope to see greater support for moving forward.”

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