Gan Siow Huang and Yeo Wan Ling know how FWAs can benefit S’pore’s workers, employers and women

It was the Great Resignation from work these past few years. 

Now, however it is now the era of the Great Return to the office, which is not always ideal for workers: Employers worldwide are now making working from home a “once-a-week-treat”, and work conditions are overall less flexible than during the pandemic. 

Parts of Singapore’s workforce really do find these tightening work conditions difficult, especially women who have familial caregiving duties at home or are rejoining the workforce after a years-long break. 

At the same time, Singapore’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) do report unease over FWAs, most often regarding perceived additional costs and less efficiency.

Source: Association of Small & Medium Enterprises / Facebook 

So we are taking action for family-friendly Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs). They are for a more inclusive Singapore where everyone can thrive. 

FWAs help employers and employees get win-win outcomes 

At a recent (Jun 19) dialogue with the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME) for example, Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang shared how senior management can use FWAs for the overall good.  

 “We urge senior management to set out FWA policy for their company and have a clear process for evaluating employees’ requests for FWAs,” she posted afterwards. 

“This will go towards fostering a supportive workplace culture, and can strengthen staff retention and recruitment. If implemented well, FWAs can be a win-win for both employers and employees.” 

Now, this sharing continues MoS Gan’s long-time push for FWAs across the workforce.  

At the Committee of Supply 2023, she also spoke up (Mar 1) on how these will support caregivers, seniors and people with disabilities (PWDs) to continue working in, or to re-enter, Singapore’s workforce. 

“We have made good progress, and we will press on with tripartite partners to encourage more FWAs in a win-win manner,” she said then, noting that nine in 10 firms in Singapore were providing at least one FWA on a sustained basis. 

“The Tripartite Partners are working closely to formulate and introduce the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangements by 2024,” she added, referring to how the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) partners with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) to support the requirement for employers to consider requests for FWAs fairly and properly. 

MOM, NTUC and SNEF, meanwhile have actively developed a list of resources for helping employers on the FWA journey — the SMEs Go Digital programme is a particularly useful PAP Government effort for allaying concerns which SMEs may have over FWAs. 

The CUB programme helps women return to work 

Another actionable topic during the ASME dialogue session: How flexible work arrangements help empower people — particularly women — to rejoin the labour force. 

MP Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris–Punggol GRC) noted there that Singapore’s women can remain held back from work due to their role as caregivers and homemakers. 

Here, FWAs will uplift these busy women. They will give them the balance they need to manage these ongoing life roles alongside gainful work. 

Employers will benefit as well. The labour pool will hugely increase when incorporating the 260,000 women not participating in the workforce due to their caregiving responsibilities, as MP Yeo has shared on previous occasions

“If we can tap into this labour pool and provide jobs with flexible hours that can attract women, this would go a long way in solving the labour crunch that many businesses are facing now,” she mentioned to policymakers earlier this year (Jan 16).

Source: Yeo Wan Ling / Facebook 

MP Yeo, in fact, recently (Jun 7) launched the C U Back at work (CUB) programme with a corporate partner in the cleaning and environmental sector. This programme helps women caregivers return to the workforce with peace of mind. 

About 500 women currently benefit from CUB.  

And more workers (and soon-to-be workers), employers and families across Singapore will benefit with our continued action for FWAs. 

It might be the Great Return now for the world’s workers, but here in Singapore, the future of work might likely be the Great Refresh.