This article is produced by CMS Holborn Asia, a formal law alliance between CMS Singapore and Holborn Law LLC.
In line with the Ministry of Manpower's drive to encourage the introduction of Work-Life Strategies (“WLS-es”) in the workplace, the Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements (the "Tripartite Standard") was recently launched by the Second Minister for Manpower Mrs Josephine Teo on 6 October 2017.
What is a Work-Life Strategy?*
WLS-es are measures and initiatives put in place by employers to enable employees to better manage their work responsibilities alongside their family and personal needs.
Recognising the multi-generational diversity of Singapore’s workforce, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (“TAFEP”) aims to create a win-win solution for employers and employees so that employees can better integrate their work arrangements with other aspects of their lives.
TAFEP believes that the successful implementation of WLS-es will lead to measurable benefits such as improved retention rates, increased employee productivity, higher levels of engagement and lower levels of absenteeism / sick leave. Examples of WLS-es include Flexible Work Arrangements (“FWAs”), leave benefits and employment support schemes.
The Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements
The Tripartite Standard aims to incentivise employers in their implementation of FWAs, which have been found to contribute to a more supportive and conducive work environment.
Some benefits of introducing FWAs include:
- (For employers) the attraction and retention of employees, particularly back-to-work individuals, and more nimbleness in the deployment of manpower.
- (For employees) higher productivity and better work-life balance.
Choosing the right FWAs for each company depends on various factors such as employee profile, company size and the nature of the company’s business. Some of the more widely-implemented FWAs include:
- Flexi-time/Staggered work hours
- an arrangement that allows employees to vary their daily start and end times to suit their work and personal commitments over an accounting period.
- great for retaining valued employees with other personal commitments and reducing commuting during peak hours.
- Part-time work
- where employees work reduced hours on a regular basis; usually less than 35 hours a week.
- particularly beneficial for new mothers by allowing them to see to childcare needs or for older employees approaching retirement age.
- Flexible hours
- where employees are contracted to work a certain number of hours over an accounting period.
- allows employees to work at any time of the day as long as the stipulated hours are completed within the workweek.
- flexi-place arrangement that allows the job to be performed at a location other than the workplace using information and communication technologies.
- ideal for eliminating commuting times and giving employees a sense of job control and autonomy.
Other FWAs suggested by TAFEP include (amongst others) compressed work schedules, creative scheduling, job sharing and project-based work, to name a few.
Adopting the Tripartite Standard
Whilst certain companies may already offer FWAs to their employees, this may not be widely-publicised within the organisation or employees may not be familiar with the steps needed to apply for FWAs.
The Tripartite Standard lists certain simple specification steps for organisations when implementing FWAs in the workplace:
- Appoint a member of senior management to champion FWAs.
- Offer the FWAs to employees.
- Employees request for the FWAs on offer, and are informed on the available types of FWAs, the process for requesting them, and expectations associated with responsible use of FWAs (e.g. to be published on the company website or in the HR policy).
- Outcomes of FWA requests are communicated to employees in a timely fashion and documented. Where FWAs are not granted, supervisors will explain the reasons to employees and if possible, look into suitable alternatives.
- Supervisors will be trained to: (1) objectively evaluate FWA applications based on (amongst others) suitability, job requirements, compensation and safety; and (2) set work expectations, manage and appraise employees on FWAs fairly based on work outcomes.
Benefits of Adopting the Tripartite Standard
Adopting the Tripartite Standards helps employers to differentiate themselves from their competitors, making them more attractive to potential employees.
Companies that have signed the Tripartite Standards can use the Tripartite Standard logomarks in their job advertisements and marketing collaterals, and will be listed on TAFEP’s “Organisations That Have Adopted the Tripartite Standards” page. To-date, approximately 250 organisations have signed on to the Tripartite Standards.
- Faced with an increasingly diverse and ageing workforce, the Tripartite Standard on FWAs provides a platform for forward-thinking employers to retain and attract valued employees.
- With today’s technological and communication advancements, the implementation of FWAs is no longer an administrative and/or logistical impossibility. Employers should leverage on this to maximise employee productivity and to create a more nimble workforce.
- Being able to use the Tripartite Standard logomarks in their advertisements and marketing materials is likely to enhance an organisation’s image and reputation to potential future employees.
- Employers interested in implementing WLS-es and/or FWAs in the workplace can get funding via the Work Life Grant.