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Average hours worked per week falling over past 8 years: MOM report

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Annual report on resident labour force here shows another drop, with downward trend over last 8 years

As more people choose part-time work and are aided in their jobs by technology, the average number of hours worked per week has been falling over the past eight years.

An annual report on the resident labour force in Singapore, released by the Ministry of Manpower yesterday, showed that employed Singaporeans and permanent residents worked an average of 43 hours a week last year. This has come down from 43.2 hours in 2017 and a high of 46.6 hours in 2010.

The fall last year was due to a slight decrease in hours among people working full time, as well as a rising share of part-timers in the workforce, said the ministry.

The figure is for the usual hours worked per week, which covers a typical weekly work schedule, including regular overtime hours, even if workers are not paid for them.

But some industries still had a higher than average share of workers pulling long hours.

Nearly three in 10 workers in the transportation industry, such as taxi drivers and private-hire car drivers, and the storage sector, worked more than 48 hours a week last year.

About one in four workers in financial and insurance services and food and beverage services also did so. People with relatively long hours include financial and investment advisers, financial analysts, chefs, cooks and hawkers.

Singapore Business Federation chairman Teo Siong Seng said there have been more efforts in recent years to encourage part-time work and other flexible arrangements to bring older workers and mothers back into the workforce.

"If the hours are shorter but more workers are available, it would still be all right for businesses.

"At the same time, they have to see how to adapt and improve productivity," he said.

Human resources experts find the trend encouraging.

"Shorter work hours may mean refreshed and motivated employees, increased efficiency and thus productivity, which in turn benefit businesses," said Adecco Singapore country manager Mark Hall.

Mr Josh Border, Randstad's director for sales, marketing, human resources and secretarial divisions, said businesses can continue to lower the number of hours worked by investing in digital tools and introducing more flexible work arrangements "so that employees can work during a period of time when they face the least amount of distractions and are the most productive," he said.

Part-time work has become more prevalent, with 10.9 per cent part-timers among residents last year, up from 8.4 per cent in 2009.