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Singapore orders all employers to consider workers’ flexi-time requests

Bloomberg
Bloomberg • 2 min read
Singapore orders all employers to consider workers’ flexi-time requests
While the guideline isn’t enforceable by law, it does require all firms in Singapore to set up a process for employees to submit a formal flexible-working arrangement request. Photo: Bloomberg
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Workers in Singapore can now ask for four-day work weeks, more work-from-home days and staggered work timings starting from Dec 1, underscoring the global trend of governments and companies relaxing office arrangements in order to retain talent.

The new guideline was announced on Tuesday by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, an agency set up by the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation. Employees will also be entitled to ask for other arrangements such as flexible work locations come the end of this year.

“Access to flexible work arrangements is often the main consideration for caregivers, women workers and senior workers when it comes to deciding to stay or return to the workforce,” said Yeo Wan Ling, co-chair of the Tripartite Workgroup.

While the guideline isn’t enforceable by law, it does require all firms in Singapore to set up a process for employees to submit a formal flexible-working arrangement request. Employers can reject the request on the grounds it would result in a significant worsening of productivity, a significant increase in cost or because it’s not feasible given the nature of the work.

Companies couldn’t however reject a request on the basis that it runs counter to a firm’s traditions or management simply doesn’t believe in such flexible work styles.

Singapore’s move is in line with other countries including Ireland and the UK, where governments require businesses to consider flexi-work requests.

See also: Singapore’s reputation as haven for super-wealthy is tested: Bloomberg Opinion’s Shuli Ren

While working from home became a mainstay during the pandemic, the practice has been on the decline as the world recovers from Covid and employers, mindful of expensive real estate sitting empty, demand staff get back to the office. But retaining more flexible arrangements may be good for business, with those giving employees freedom to choose how and where they work proven to attract talent at a faster rate and generate more revenue.

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