Employers, staff urged be open to flexible work arrangements, including 4-day work week
Employers and employees in Singapore are strongly encouraged to be open to flexible work arrangements, including four-day work weeks, said Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang in Parliament on Tuesday.
She said: "As with any work arrangements, a four-day work week may work well for some employers and employees, but not others.
"We should adopt a flexible mindset... The ministry, together with our tripartite partners, strongly encourages employers and employees to be open to flexible work arrangements in all their various forms to identify and adopt those that best suit their unique business needs and the workers' needs."
Ms Gan was responding to a question from Mr Melvin Yong (Radin Mas) on whether there are any studies to examine the feasibility of a four-day work week in Singapore, and whether the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will commission its own study to examine the benefits and challenges of a four-day work week.
Ms Gan said MOM is not aware of any ongoing studies by third parties, but noted that there are reports of four-day work-week pilots in countries such as Ireland, Japan and Spain.
Other countries, such as Belgium, allow employees to ask for a four-day work week but with daily work hours extended so that the total number of hours worked per week remains the same.
The results so far appear to be mixed, said Ms Gan, adding that some of the key concerns that surfaced include the reduced work week's impact on productivity, business costs and employee well-being.
While productivity improvements have been reported in some cases, they depend on the sector and job type, she said.
"In some instances, reduced work hours have had to be compensated by hiring more labour. At the same time, employees are concerned that their salaries could be reduced due to fewer hours worked, while some could face increased stress when they work more hours than usual in a day to complete their work," Ms Gan said.
Mr Yong also asked if MOM would be open to conducting a small-scale trial to better understand the benefits and challenges of a four-day work week.
Ms Gan replied that MOM does not intend to specify any trial or impose formulas on the public sector.
She added that various sectors have diverse needs, and employers and workers are welcome to try different types of flexible arrangements that best suit their workplace.