Guidelines on flexiwork to come in November

Guidelines on flexiwork to come in November

SINGAPORE - Companies will receive guidelines on how to put in place flexible work arrangements in November, during a week-long work-life balance campaign.

The aim is to "enlighten employers and employees on the benefits of work-life balance", said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Hawazi Daipi yesterday.

Mr Hawazi's announcement came after backbenchers from both sides called for more action to encourage work-life balance.

People's Action Party MP Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) wanted the Government to discourage companies from encroaching on employees' personal time.

He suggested that Singapore take a leaf from the French book, in which "unions and employers came to an agreement to prohibit workers from replying to e-mails after leaving their office".

Mr Lim also urged the public sector, as the largest employer, to take the lead by discouraging staff from replying to e-mails after office hours, unless these are very urgent.

The previous day, Workers' Party MP Lee Li Lian (Punggol East) pointed out that work-life harmony "has been tackled exclusively in the domain of manpower policy", an approach which "has not worked".

Mr Hawazi disagreed.

The Tripartite Committee on Work-Life Strategy, which will issue the guidelines, involves "different parties and government agencies which try to promote different aspects of working, work- life and enhancement of productivity".

Also, the practices of companies have been improving, he noted.

In 2012, 41 per cent of companies offered at least one form of flexible work arrangement, a rise from 25 per cent in 2007.

"Does more need to be done to promote work-life? Yes, indeed. But all tripartite partners are working very hard," he added.

Responding, Ms Lee agreed that work-life harmony does not rely solely on the Manpower Ministry.

For this reason, she said that she suggested the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council address the topic, as concerns over productivity might keep companies from offering flexible work arrangements.

This article was first published on May 31, 2014.
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