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

The Singapore government has recently introduced measures aimed at simplifying the process for employees interested in flexible work arrangements (FWAs), while ensuring that employers maintain the authority to determine work setups.

Starting December 1, 2024, employees will have the opportunity to request flexible work arrangements, including options like telecommuting, shortened workweeks, and adaptable hours, with employers obligated to follow set guidelines.

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

Here, we provide answers to common queries regarding the upcoming changes on flexible work arrangements:

  • What are the various types of Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs)?
    • Flexi-place: This allows employees to work remotely, either from home or other locations outside the office, encompassing telecommuting and remote work options.
    • Flexi-time: This enables employees to work at different times without changing total work hours or workload, including staggered hours, flexible shifts, and compressed work schedules.
    • Flexi-load: This permits employees to handle varying workloads with corresponding compensation, including job sharing and part-time work options.
  • Are employers required to establish processes for employees?
    • While not legally mandatory, it is recommended that companies adopt this practice. Consequently, employees can submit formal FWA requests. The guidelines stipulate that “employers should thoughtfully review employees’ FWA requests,” prioritizing aspects relevant to the employee’s role.
  • Are all employees eligible to request flexible work arrangements?
    • The outlined guidelines will apply to all employees who have completed their probationary period and relate exclusively to formal requests.
  • Can employers decline flexible work arrangement requests?
    • Employers have the discretion to refuse FWA requests, provided they offer reasonable justifications based on business considerations such as:
      • Cost implications
      • Potential negative impact on productivity or output
      • Feasibility or practicality concerns
  • What are some unacceptable reasons for rejecting flexible work arrangement requests?
    • Employers are prohibited from declining requests solely based on reasons unrelated to business outcomes, such as personal beliefs against flexible work arrangements.
  • What is the timeframe for responding to a flexible work arrangement request?
    • Employers must respond to the request within two months from the submission date and are encouraged to explore alternative arrangements if the initial request is deemed impractical. In case of rejection, employers must provide a clear reason for their decision.
  • What if my employer fails to comply with 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 offer guidance on adhering to 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