SINGAPORE: The Government has added S$70 million to a scheme that provides incentives for companies to offer flexible work arrangements, in a move aimed at making such workplace practices more pervasive.
The budget for the Work-Life Grant, which was started in 2013, will be increased to S$100 million, up from the current S$30 million, announced Ms Low Yen Ling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Manpower (MOM, in her Committee of Supply debate speech on Tuesday (Mar 5).
“This will allow more companies to benefit from the grant to sustain their employees’ flexible work arrangements adoption, including job-sharing by professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs),” she said.
About 70 per cent of employees in Singapore currently work in companies that offer at least one formal flexible work arrangement, such as part-time work and flexi-time or staggered hours, Ms Low said.
She added that about 90 per cent of workers today are in companies that provide at least one ad-hoc flexible work arrangement, and unplanned time-off, ad-hoc teleworking or both.
The trend of higher flexible work arrangements adoption across the board is not only good news for employees, it is also positive for companies, she said.
“Among workplace practices, the provision of flexible work arrangements has the greatest impact on staff retention which benefit companies with experienced and engaged workers,” Ms Low said.
JOB-SHARING GUIDE BY FIRST HALF OF THIS YEAR
Additionally, MOM and the Singapore National Employers Federation will launch a job-sharing implementation guide for employers by the first half of this year, so as to raise awareness on this form of flexible work arrangement, which is less well-known and practised among employers.
Job-sharing allows two or more people to share the responsibilities of one full-time position, having them work at different times during the day or week or alternate weeks, and also overlapping hours.
Ms Low gave an example from the Accountant-General’s Department in the Ministry of Finance. Two of its employees in cash management and payment processing who are mothers were given a job-sharing arrangement.
One of them took the morning shift so she could be home for her two primary school-going children while the other preferred to work in the afternoons while her toddler took his afternoon nap under her mother’s watch.
To ensure a smooth handover, they would spend their overlapping hour at noon to exchange information and discuss what needed to be followed-up. They kept abreast of each other’s progress via an excel spreadsheet that was constantly updated.
“Job-sharing would not only expand the range of flexible work arrangements options, it can enhance trust, commitment and work satisfaction between employees and employers,” she said.
Encouraging more flexible work arrangements will also support the employment of older workers, Ms Low said.
“As our seniors age, there will be a growing need for greater flexibility in workplaces so as to meet their diverse needs and preferences. Many of them may wish to remain in the workforce but with reduced or differing work intensity,” she said.
If Singapore moves towards a more inclusive work culture and mindset, it will be better placed to make the best of its talents, she added.
“With family-friendly workplaces, employees can contribute their fullest potential without compromising their responsibilities to their loved ones. And age-friendly work practices let our seniors pass on valuable experience and knowledge as they work at their preferred pace and intensity,” she said.