Singapore rolls out four-day work week and other flexible work options from 1st December

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16th April 2024 – (Singapore)  Singapore has set the stage for employees to request four-day work weeks, increased remote working options, and staggered hours starting from 1st December. This initiative reflects a broader global move by governments and corporations to modify traditional office setups to retain skilled workers.

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, a collaborative body established by the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress, and the Singapore National Employers Federation, announced these new guidelines on Tuesday. The changes also include the option for employees to seek flexible work locations by the year’s end.

Yeo Wan Ling, co-chair of the Tripartite Workgroup, emphasized the importance of these flexible work options, particularly for caregivers, female employees, and older workers, in making decisions about their participation in the workforce.

Although these guidelines are not enforceable by law, they mandate all Singaporean firms to establish a formal procedure for handling requests for flexible working arrangements. Employers may decline requests if they believe that accommodating them would substantially hinder productivity, excessively increase costs, or if the nature of the work makes such changes impractical.

However, companies are not allowed to dismiss requests solely because they contradict traditional business practices or due to management’s scepticism towards flexible working styles.

This policy aligns Singapore with countries like Ireland and the UK, where legislation already exists requiring businesses to consider flexible working requests seriously.

The adoption of remote working surged during the COVID-19 pandemic but has seen a decline as the situation stabilizes globally. Despite this, the persistence of flexible working arrangements could be beneficial for businesses. Evidence suggests that companies offering greater work flexibility tend to attract talent more quickly and achieve higher revenue, highlighting an evolving landscape where flexible work options are not just employee perks but strategic business decisions.