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Singapore to implement new flexi-work arrangement guidelines, opening up possibilities for flexi-time and flexi-place options

The guidelines will require all employers to fairly process employee's formal FWA requests

Mingli Seet
Written by
Mingli Seet

In the post-pandemic world, our work landscape has embraced a new norm where flexibility in our arrangements is widely accepted. And Singapore’s work landscape is no exception. 

However, things are about to get even more official. On April 16, 2024, the Tripartite Workgroup (TWG) announced new Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) guidelines for all Singaporeans that will come into effect from December 1, 2024. The guidelines will require all employers to fairly process employee's formal FWA requests accordingly. Examples of such arrangements include having flexi-time and flexi-place options.

The TWG was formed in September 2023 to develop guidelines for FWAs. The group comprises of representatives from the Government, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), Singapore Business Federation (SBF), Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME), Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), Institute for HR Professionals (IHRP), and the Public Service Division (PSD).

The new guideline aims to cater to each and every unique needs of fellow employees. “While more employers have implemented FWAs, there may be specific needs of an individual employee which may not be covered by his or her employer’s FWA policy. As such, the Tripartite Guidelines on FWA Requests will guide employees to make requests for FWAs responsibly and help employers assess such requests properly,” says Mr Edwin Ng, co-chair of the Tripartite Workgroup.

The introduction of this year's new guidelines will establish a structured protocol for this arrangement. “The Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement Requests is a milestone enhancement to the normalisation of FWAs in the workplace, as it puts into place formalised and clear processes for workers to request for flexible work arrangements,” Ms Yeo Wan Ling, co-chair of the Tripartite Workgroup adds.

How can Singaporeans request for flexible working arrangements?

Employees can submit a formal request for their preferred flexible working arrangement, using a designated template with enough information for the employer to make an informed decision. 

Employers must then consider and process the FWA request fairly, based on business needs. After which, the decision to approve or reject the request must be communicated in black and white within two months from the submission date. In a case where the request is rejected, employees and employers are encouraged to engage in a discussion to reach a middle ground.

A reasonable rejection could be due to factors such as a significant impact on employee productivity or the infeasibility of the arrangement considering the nature of the job role. On the other hand, employers cannot reject requests for reasons such as claims that the company does not believe in such arrangements. 

Encouraging open, fair discussions between employers and employees, fostering trust and understanding, is highly recommended, as is educating employers on how to evaluate such requests.

In a case where an employee's request is rejected, they may seek advice and assistance from organisations such as the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), NTUC, or their respective unions.

For more information on the new FWAs guidelines, click here.


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