Written Answer by Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng to PQ on Work-From-Home Arrangements and its Long-Term Effects on Mental Well-being
NOTICE PAPER NO. 851 OF 2021 FOR THE NEXT AVAILABLE SITTING
QUESTION NO. 1341 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
MP: Mr Sitoh Yih Pin
To ask the Minister for Manpower
(a) whether the Ministry has data on whether employees on work-from-home arrangements have been affected by expectations of work availability and longer working hours;
(b) if so, what are the long-term effects on the mental well-being of employees; and
(c) whether the Ministry has any plans to address this issue.
1. Work-from-home (WFH) arrangements have become widespread given the pandemic. WFH is a form of flexible work arrangement (FWA) which can support employees to better manage their work and personal responsibilities, but there are indeed possible downsides which need to be managed. Based on qualitative data, these include concerns about longer hours and burnout due to blurring of work-life boundaries.
2. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and tripartite partners have taken steps to address the potential impact of WFH on employees’ mental well-being. The Tripartite Advisory on Mental Well-being was introduced in 2020, and one of the key recommendations within was for employers to set reasonable expectations of after-hours work communications, such as not requiring employees to respond to non-urgent work-related messages and emails after-hours. MOM also encourages employers to make use of iWorkHealth, a free, online psychosocial health assessment tool launched in 2021 for employers to regularly assess their employees’ mental well-being and identify common stressors. Employers who put in place recommended work-life support to enable employees to better balance their work and personal commitments are recognised through the Tripartite Standard on Work-Life Harmony.
3. Tripartite partners have also formed the Alliance for Action on Work-Life Harmony to develop tools and resources to help employers improve work-life harmony for their employees, and we are sustaining this momentum by growing and equipping a community of Work-Life Ambassadors who will continue to support these efforts at their workplaces.
4. MOM encourages employers to continue to sustain the provision of FWAs post pandemic, while ensuring employees’ well-being and work productivity are not compromised. We also urge employees to proactively communicate with employers on expectations while on FWAs, take ownership of their well-being and seek help if required.