Singapore upholds fair compensation in flexible work

Ministers have advocated for fair compensation, while challenging the notion of reduced pay on flexible work arrangements.
By: | May 9, 2024

Employers cannot reduce pay for employees on flexible work arrangements if their productivity remains unaffected, Singapore’s Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang clarified.

This statement comes in response to concerns surrounding the interaction between the new flexible work arrangement guidelines and the progressive wage model (PWM). The guidelines, effective December 1, require employers to establish a process for managing employee requests for flexible work options. Employers must provide a fair evaluation within two months and can only reject requests based on valid business reasons, with a written explanation provided to the employee.

The PWM dictates wage increases tied to skills development and productivity gains. It applies to specific sectors with a high concentration of lower-income local employees, such as cleaning and security. Nominated Member of Parliament Raj Thomas queried whether an employer could deny a flexible work request if it resulted in fewer workdays and a gross wage falling below the PWN’s mandated floor.

Gan challenged the assumption of reduced pay. To attract and retain talent, employers must offer competitive compensation, she explained. “For employees who are on flexible work arrangements, if their work output productivity is not affected, actually there is no basis for employers to reduce their pay.”

Minister of Manpower Tan See Leng echoed this sentiment, emphasising that the PWM’s spirit should guide the implementation of any guidelines. He described the flexible work arrangement guidelines as a nuanced approach built on tripartite collaboration.

READ MORE: New FWA regulations in Singapore aim to foster workforce retention

“I think we are moving into newer waters,” he said, appealing for understanding, support, and patience from all stakeholders to ensure the success of these guidelines for future generations of employees.

Concerns were also raised regarding potential career repercussions for employees who disclose mental health issues while requesting flexible work arrangements. Gan reiterated that employers are obligated to assess employees based on performance and compensate them fairly for work completed, with no room for discrimination based on non-performance-impacting health conditions, reported CNA.