More firms offer flexible work arrangements

Faced with a tight labour market, more companies in Singapore are providing flexible work arrangements via part-time work, staggered hours, and formal tele-working. But the proportion of establishments giving marriage and compassionate leave has fallen slightly since 2012, according to the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) latest Conditions of Employment report released on Tuesday.

Published once every two years, the report examines general employment conditions and workplace practices in Singapore. This year's survey was conducted from June 27 to Sept 5, and covered private sector establishments with at least 25 employees, and the public sector (comprising government ministries, organs of state and statutory boards). A total of 3,800 establishments employing more than 1.29 million workers responded to the survey.

The 2014 report showed that the proportion of establishments which provided at least one formal flexible work arrangement improved steadily from 38 per cent in 2011, to 47 per cent in 2014.

Of the various formal flexible work arrangements, part-time work remained the most prevalent, offered by 36 per cent of all establishments, up from 33 per cent in 2013. This was followed by flexi-time (12 per cent, up from 10 per cent), staggered hours (unchanged at 11 per cent) and formal tele-working (5.8 per cent, up from 5.6 per cent).

MOM noted that many employers have been "generous in providing compassionate leave (89 per cent) and marriage leave (71 per cent)", even though such family-friendly paid leave is not stipulated by law.

However, findings also showed that, compared to 2012, the proportion of establishments which gave compassionate leave as well as marriage leave in 2014 was a touch lower - by 0.6 of a percentage point and 1.3 percentage points respectively.

As for absenteeism due to illness, MOM said this has been stable over the years. In 2013, the proportion of employees who took outpatient sick leave stood at 58.4 per cent, with 4.7 days as the average duration taken - the same as in 2011.

The share of employees who took hospitalisation leave, however, edged up one percentage point to 5.2 per cent in 2013.

Breaking down the findings by sector, MOM said: "Employees in manufacturing had a higher tendency of employees taking outpatient sick leave while employees in services saw higher incidence of taking hospitalisation leave - mainly in health & social services (11 per cent) and accommodation (9.9 per cent)."

MOM added that while management and executives were more likely than rank-and-file employees to take outpatient and hospitalisation sick leave, they consumed fewer days of sick leave on average than rank-and- file employees.


This article was first published on December 10, 2014.
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