Flexible work arrangements should be permanent feature: Gan Siow Huang, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Flexible work arrangements should be permanent feature: Gan Siow Huang

Even as Covid-19 safe management measures at the workplace continue to ease in tandem with the coronavirus situation, the flexible work arrangements first introduced as an urgent measure to protect public health have drawn calls from many employees to be made permanent.

Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang said in Parliament on Monday (May 9) that Ministry of Manpower (MOM) surveys show the majority of employers are keen to continue flexible work arrangements even after the pandemic ends, given the benefits that these initiatives bring to both employers and employees.

This follows a statement by the tripartite partners - MOM, Singapore National Employers Federation and National Trades Union Congress - last month that called for practices such as working from home and staggered hours at the workplace to be made permanent.

Ms Gan noted that "for the provision of flexible work arrangements to be a sustainable and effective permanent measure, employers will need sufficient time and support to find the right calibration that works best for their employees while meeting business needs".

She was responding to a question from Jalan Besar GRC MP Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah, about whether MOM would go beyond encouraging employers to retain and promote flexible work schemes.

Ms Gan said, over the next few years, the tripartite partners will strengthen training for companies, so they can implement these arrangements "in a win-win and sustainable manner", such as in the areas of human resources and job redesign.

"We will also partner our work-life ambassadors on the ground to support the implementation of flexible work arrangements," she added.

These ambassadors include business leaders, human resource practitioners and other workers who raise awareness about the business value of work-life harmony to employers and share their experiences on how to achieve work-life harmony with employees.

She also said the partners will bring more companies on board the voluntary Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements.

On what following the standards entail, she said: "This means having a clear policy on how to request for flexible work arrangements and managing employees' expectations on its responsible use, timely communication of outcomes of flexible work arrangement requests as well as fair and objective evaluation of employees'... requests."

She noted the Public Service has taken the lead to adopt the tripartite standards, and added that the steps will put companies in good stead to comply with the upcoming Tripartite Guidelines that will be introduced by 2024.

The compulsory guidelines will require employers to fairly and properly consider flexible work arrangement requests.

"Together, these efforts will establish the norm that it is acceptable to request for flexible work arrangements, while maintaining employers' prerogative to assess and decide on flexible work arrangement requests based on their business and operational needs."

parliamentMinistry of Manpower