New FWA regulations in Singapore aim to foster workforce retention

New regulations ensure that flexible work requests are taken into consideration to maximise the potential and retention of its workforce.
By: | April 25, 2024

In a bid to enhance workforce flexibility and retention, the Singapore government has unveiled new regulations that compel employers to carefully consider employee requests for flexible work arrangements. Championed by a panel representing diverse industry bodies, the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement Requests aim to harness the full potential of the local workforce.

During a panel discussion, Edwin Ng, Honorary Secretary of the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), emphasised that these guidelines complement rather than undermine the nation’s work ethic. Ng, alongside Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang and other panel members, addressed concerns regarding the guidelines’ implications and implementation.  

Ang Yuit, President of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, highlighted the guidelines’ potential to widen the talent pool for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and enhance manpower deployment. Gan highlighted the competitiveness of local talent and stressed the importance of in-person interaction for fostering teamwork, which she believes is pivotal for keeping jobs in Singapore.

The guidelines mandate that employers respond to all flexible work arrangement requests within two months. To manage potential challenges arising from the implementation, Sim Gim Guan, Executive Director of the SNEF, suggested that employers establish clear policies outlining job expectations.

READ MORE: Singapore mandates formal FWA request process for employers

While the guidelines outline three categories of flexible work arrangements—flexi-place, flexi-time, and flexi-load arrangements—the panel clarified that these are not exhaustive. They encouraged a nuanced approach that allows employers and employees to explore arrangements that suit their specific needs and business requirements.

However, the panel also cautioned against arrangements, such as a four-day workweek with unchanged pay, that could potentially impact business operations and costs. Gan emphasised the need for employees to consider the overall impact on productivity and business expenses before seeking such arrangements, reported The Straits Times.