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More companies offering flexible work arrangements: MOM survey

SINGAPORE — The tight labour market and ongoing initiatives to promote better work-life balance have led to more employers offering their staff flexible work arrangements such as part-time work, staggered hours and formal tele-working.

Despite the benefits of flexi-work arrangements, industries such as F&B require a worker to be physically present. TODAY FILE PHOTO

Despite the benefits of flexi-work arrangements, industries such as F&B require a worker to be physically present. TODAY FILE PHOTO

SINGAPORE — The tight labour market and ongoing initiatives to promote better work-life balance have led to more employers offering their staff flexible work arrangements such as part-time work, staggered hours and formal tele-working.

The Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) biennial employment survey showed almost one in two firms (or 47 per cent) provided at least one formal flexible work arrangement, up from 38 per cent in 2011.

The latest employment survey polled a total of 3,800 firms in the public and private sectors. Of the various flexible work arrangements, part-time work was the most common, offered by 36 per cent of companies. This was followed by flexi-time at 12 per cent, staggered hours at 11 per cent and formal tele-working at 5.8 per cent.

More employers were also found to be going beyond statutory requirements to provide various leave benefits to help their employees with family commitments, said the MOM.

About nine in 10 and seven in 10 employers provided compassionate leave and marriage leave, respectively, although it was not required by law.

Four in 10 firms provided unpaid leave of more than one month to allow their employees to, for example, pursue personal interests, go on a sabbatical or attend to family matters.

About 37 per cent of employers provided study/examination leave and 17 per cent provided parental care or sick leave. Childcare sick leave was provided by 16 per cent of employers.

The number of full-time employees who were entitled to at least 15 days of paid annual leave rose by 1.3 percentage points from 2012 to 42 per cent this year.

Human resource experts TODAY spoke to said while there has been progress, flexible work arrangements may not be readily embraced by employers who are concerned about the abuse of such benefits. “If the line managers, the senior managers do not walk the talk, you will find it very hard to get people to adopt (flexible work arrangements),” said Mr Josh Goh, ManpowerGroup Singapore’s head of marketing and corporate communications.

However, a paradigm shift and a redesign of jobs would take time, as certain industries, such as retail and food & beverage, require a worker to be physically present at the workplace, said Singapore Human Resource Institute president Erman Tan.

But, he added, more firms have begun to recognise the benefits of providing flexible work arrangements and are taking the initiative to woo potential employees. “It is better to address their needs first, rather than wait for staff to quit,” he said.

To encourage more companies to offer flexible work arrangements, RecruitPlus managing director Adrian Tan said employers need to be educated on how they can benefit financially from such arrangements.

More case studies that demonstrate the financial possibilities of implementing such arrangements could be provided for small- and medium-sized enterprises, he added. “At the end of the day, business is business.”

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