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Written Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo Minister for Manpower to PQ on participation rate in flexi-work arrangements and impact on staff morale, productivity and turnover

NOTICE PAPER NO. 1698 OF 2019 FOR THE SITTING ON 8 JUL 2019

QUESTION NO. 2850 FOR ORAL ANSWER

MP: Ms Foo Mee Har

To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) what is the average participation rate in flexi-work arrangements (FWAs) by employees at companies that have rolled out such arrangements; (b) how does the rate of Singaporeans participating in FWAs compare to those of other countries including OECD countries; and (c) whether there is a difference in productivity, staff morale and turnover for companies offering FWAs and those that do not.

Answer

  1. Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) have become more common in Singapore. Based on a 2018 MOM survey[1], about 7 in 10 employees in Singapore now work in companies that offer at least one formal FWA, such as part-time work and flexi-time or staggered hours. In addition, about 9 in 10 workers work in companies that allow their employees to take unplanned time-off to attend to personal matters, ad-hoc teleworking or both. Taken together, more than 9 in 10 employees work in companies that provide some form of work flexibility.
  2. This compares favourably to the experience of other OECD countries. From a 2016 OECD report[2] covering 35 European countries, 3 in 4 employees have access to some work schedule flexibility, including taking one or two hours off for personal reasons. In another 2017 OECD report[3], about 55% of female and 53% of male employees in the U.S had access to FWAs.
  3. FWAs benefit both employees and employers. For employees, FWAs allow them to better manage their obligations at work and their personal needs such as caregiving. For employers, studies[4] have found that FWAs result in better employee engagement, reduced employee turnover and increased productivity. A 2018 MOM study[5] also found that among workplace practices, availability of FWAs had the greatest impact on staff retention.
  4. Among employees who required FWAs in 2016, 7 in 10 were provided with the arrangement that they needed[6]. While this is encouraging, there is room for workplace cultures to become even more progressive. This is why MOM launched the Tripartite Standard on FWAs, to recognise employers who actively facilitate FWAs. To date[7], around 1,600 employers, with total staff strength of about 410,000, have adopted the Standard.
  5. The Government encourages and provides support to companies to implement FWAs. Employers may access the enhanced Work-Life Grant which has been raised to $100 million recently and make use of the new job-sharing implementation guide to offer FWAs to employees.

FOOTNOTE

  1. The Conditions of Employment (COE) 2018 survey covering 3,700 establishments from both the private sector (each with at least 25 employees) and the public sector, employing more than 1.3 million individuals.
  2. OECD (2016), “Be Flexible! Background brief on how workplace flexibility can help European employees to balance work and family”. The report was based on data from the 2015 European Survey on Working Conditions. The survey covered more than 43,000 workers from 35 European countries.
  3. OECD (2017), “Flexible working arrangements”, in the Pursuit of Gender Equality: An Uphill Battle.
  4. Studies include: (1) OECD’s 2016 report (footnote 1), (2) Anon, “Flexible Working as Human Resource Strategy: Benefits to the Organisation and its Personnel”, 2008 (3) R.N. Baptiste, “Tightening the Link between Employee Wellbeing at Work and Performance”, 2008.
  5. Conditions of Employment survey 2018.
  6. Labour force supplementary survey 2016.
  7. Adoption numbers for Tripartite Standard on FWAs are as of end-May 2019.