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More flexible work arrangements needed to create 'pervasive, sustainable workplace norm': Govt White Paper

SINGAPORE — The Government may progressively expand the availability of flexible work arrangements by introducing a new set of tripartite guidelines by 2024, in order to entrench flexible work arrangements as a "pervasive and sustainable workplace norm". 

More flexible work arrangements needed to create 'pervasive, sustainable workplace norm': Govt White Paper
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  • The Government may expand the availability of flexible work arrangements by introducing a new set of tripartite guidelines by 2024
  • It will require employers to consider flexible work arrangement requests fairly and properly
  • This was one of the proposals put forth in a White Paper on women’s development in Singapore released on March 28
  • Other proposals include enshrining the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices in law to ensure workplace fairness 

SINGAPORE — The Government may progressively expand the availability of flexible work arrangements by introducing a new set of tripartite guidelines by 2024, in order to entrench flexible work arrangements as a "pervasive and sustainable workplace norm". 

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

This shift comes amid efforts to enable both women and men to better balance their work, family and personal responsibilities, as well as better support more women to enter, return to, remain and progress in the workforce. 

More employers have also "come to appreciate the importance of flexible working arrangements as a talent attraction and retention tool, making flexible working arrangements more available," according to a White Paper released on Monday (March 28). 

Among employees aged 25 to 64 who required flexible working arrangements, nine in 10 had access to the arrangements that they required in 2020, up from six in 10 in 2014.

The White Paper on women's development in Singapore acknowledged the impact of Covid-19 on bringing about wider acceptance of flexible work arrangements.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the feasibility and benefits of implementing flexible working arrangements," it said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the feasibility and benefits of implementing flexible working arrangements.
White Paper on women's development in Singapore

"The proportion of employees who were working in establishments offering at least one flexible working arrangement on a regular and sustained basis increased from 65 per cent in 2015 to 86 per cent in 2020."

Before the new guidelines kick in, the Government may also look at increasing the adoption of the voluntary tripartite standard on flexible work arrangements by employers, which "sets out best practices" for offering and evaluating requests for flexible work arrangements.

It aims to extend the coverage from 882,000 employees — 27 per cent of all employees today — to 1.33 million employees, or 40 per cent of all employees by end 2022.

These recommendations are one of several proposals put forth in a White Paper on women’s development in Singapore, which was submitted to Parliament on Monday.

The White Paper, which aims to build a "fairer and more inclusive society, where men and women partner each other as equals", was put together after a year-long nationwide conversation on issues relating to women.

The paper also recommends enshrining the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices in law to ensure workplace fairness. 

This law would require employers to put in place grievance handling procedures as well as protect the identity of those who come forward to report and prohibit retaliation against them. 

These proposals were made based on feedback that some employees hesitated to seek help out of fear that in doing so, they would be disadvantaged in the workplace. 

"By providing a fair and safe environment to report discrimination or harassment, more individuals would be assured when stepping forward to make a report," the paper stated. 

But the paper acknowledged that "legislation is not a panacea" and it is still preferable for cases to be resolved through mediation where possible. 

"This preserves the relationship between the employer and employee so that they can continue to work together harmoniously," it said. 

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White Paper flexible work women employment

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