Most work more than 40 hours a week

PHOTO: Most work more than 40 hours a week

Medical social worker Sara Lee works from 8am to about 8pm or later, at least three times a week.

"The latest I've worked until is 10pm. It's fulfilling, but tiring," the 23-year-old told My Paper.

"And that leaves me with only the weekends for catching up with my family and friends," she said.

Ms Lee is not alone in her predicament.

A survey conducted last month by Singapore Press Holdings' online job portal STJobs found that 65 per cent of over 3,000 respondents clock an average of more than 40 hours a week, spending more time than they should at work.

The poll, which looked at workplace trends and expectations, also showed almost eight in 10 employees in Singapore have not fully utilised, and are likely to forgo, their annual-leave entitlement this year.

These results suggest that most respondents are overloaded with work, including those in senior positions who are entitled to more leave, as they are generally not getting enough rest.

Human-resource experts attribute the issue of overworked employees to reasons such as Singapore's role as a "major regional hub".

"Offices here have to service many hubs around the world... and take on video-conference calls and other forms of communication with countries outside of their official office hours," said Mr Finian Toh, manager of banking and financial services at Robert Walters Singapore.

Mr Mark Hall, vice-president and country manager of Kelly Services Singapore, added: "Uncertainty in the market means that people are very conscious of protecting their jobs and prefer to take on extra work to demonstrate their value."

Mr Koh Juan Kiat, executive director of Singapore National Employers Federation, explained that employees could be not fully utilising their leave entitlements for personal reasons.

He said: "They could be planning to carry them over to next year for a longer break, or they could have taken other forms of leave, such as childcare or familycare leave."

Employers, for their part, can "encourage their employees to take leave to rest, spend time with family and friends, and recharge", he said.

Results of a separate survey released yesterday showed that more employers in Singapore are, in fact, making arrangements to offer their employees work-life balance.

Conducted by the Ministry of Manpower's Research and Statistics Department, the Employment Survey 2012 found that 41 per cent - or four in 10 - establishments offered at least one form of work-life arrangement, up from 38 per cent last year.

Part-time work was the most common form of arrangement offered by 33 per cent of establishments.

Flexible working times, staggered hours and teleworking were also offered.

The survey also found that employers are increasingly going beyond statutory requirements to provide their employees with various leave benefits that help them cope with family commitments.

These employers offered compassionate leave, marriage leave, paternity leave, study or examination leave, and parental-care or sick leave.

The survey, conducted from June 27 to Aug 31, involved about 3,500 establishments in the private and government sectors, which together had 1,176,200 employees.