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Written Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo Minister for Manpower to PQ on Right to Request Flexible Work Arrangements

NOTICE PAPER NO. 59 OF 2020 FOR A SITTING ON OR AFTER 6 OCTOBER 2020

QUESTION NO. 149 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER 

MP: Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang

To ask the Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry will legislate the right for all employees to request flexible work arrangements and require employers who reject the request to provide a specific business-related reason. 

Answer

  1. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recognises the importance of flexible work arrangements (FWAs) in helping workers to better manage both their work and personal responsibilities. We have continuously reviewed and enhanced our efforts to support the provision of FWAs. This includes progressively implementing the recommendations of the Citizens’ Panel on Work-Life Harmony that were submitted last year, such as growing a community of Work-Life Ambassadors and developing sector-specific implementation guides on FWAs. 
  2. Today, the vast majority of employees are benefitting from FWAs. In 2019, about 85% of employers offered some form of formal or ad-hoc FWAs1. These numbers have increased during this COVID-19 period with employers being required to implement work-from-home and FWAs for safety of their workers. Post-Circuit Breaker, even as more workers are allowed to return to the workplace, the tripartite partners have called upon employers to not only stagger start times for their employees but also introduce flexible workplace hours as a norm. 
  3. MOM will monitor the effects of the higher use of FWAs, and study the best ways to entrench best practices after COVID-19. We will consider the experience of other jurisdictions and work with tripartite partners to ensure the interests of both employees and employers are considered. In the meantime, we urge employers to press on and continue to implement work arrangements that enable employees to maintain work-life harmony while continuing to meet business needs.

FOOTNOTE

  1. Supplementary Survey on Quality Workplaces, Manpower Research and Statistics Department, MOM.