Singapore’s Latest Flexible Work Arrangements: All Your Frequently Asked Questions

The Singapore government has recently unveiled measures to streamline the process for employees seeking flexible work arrangements (FWA) while ensuring employers retain the authority to determine work setups.

Effective December 1, 2024, employees will have the right to request flexible work arrangements, encompassing options such as telecommuting, reduced workweeks, and flexible hours. Employers are required to adhere to the established guidelines.

Mr. Edwin Ng, co-chair of the Tripartite Workgroup, highlights the importance of addressing individual employee needs that might not be covered by their employer’s existing flexible work arrangement policies.

Below, we address some frequently asked questions regarding the forthcoming changes on flexible work arrangements.

  • What are the different types of Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA)?
    • Flexi-place – Arrangements allowing employees to work remotely, either from home or other locations outside the office. This encompasses telecommuting and remote work options.
    • Flexi-time – Arrangements enabling employees to work at varied times without altering total work hours or workload. This encompasses staggered hours, flexible shifts, and compressed work schedules.
    • Flexi-load – Arrangements allowing employees to assume varying workloads with corresponding compensation. This encompasses job sharing and part-time work options.
  • Are employers required to set up processes for employees under FWA?
    • Although not legally binding, it is advised that companies follow this practice. Subsequently, employees can submit formal FWA requests. The FWA guidelines specify that “employers should conscientiously review employees’ FWA requests,” prioritizing aspects pertinent to the employee’s role.
  • Are all employees allowed to request for FWA?
    • The outlined guidelines will be applicable to all employees who have completed their probationary period and pertain exclusively to formal requests.
  • Are employers allowed to reject FWA requests?
    • Employers have the discretion to reject FWA requests, provided they provide reasonable justifications based on business considerations such as:
      • Cost implications
      • Potential negative impact on productivity or output
      • Feasibility or practicality concerns
  • What are some reasons that will not be acceptable for rejecting FWA requests?
    • Employers are prohibited from rejecting requests solely based on reasons unrelated to business outcomes, such as personal beliefs against flexible work arrangements.
  • How quick does a flexible work arrangement request have to be responded to?
    • Employers are required to respond to the request within two months from the date of submission and are encouraged to explore alternative arrangements if the initial request is deemed impractical. In cases of rejection, employers must provide a clear reason for their decision.
  • What if my employer does not adhere to the new guidelines?
    • Employees are encouraged to seek assistance from the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) for further support. Tafep will engage with employers and provide guidance on complying with the established guidelines.

For more information on the new flexible work arrangements, please refer to the below links from the Singapore Government official website:

  1. Tripartite Guidelines that Shape the Right Norms and Expectations Around Flexible Work Arrangements to Come into Effect on 1 Dec 2024: https://www.mom.gov.sg/newsroom/press-releases/2024/0416-launch-of-tripartite-guidelines-on-fwa-requests-and-tripartite-workgroup-report
  2. Flexible Work Arrangements – Employment Practices: https://www.mom.gov.sg/-/media/mom/documents/employment-practices/flexible-work-arrangements.pdf

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