Tripartite partners convene new workgroup to develop the guidelines on flexible work arrangements

The guidelines will clarify the norms and expectations around providing and using flexible work arrangements.

By Shukry Rashid 07 Sep 2023
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Tripartite partners have formed a new workgroup to develop the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA).

The Tripartite Workgroup (TWG) convened its first meeting on 7 September 2023.

The TWG comprises representatives from the Government, 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 Ministry of Manpower said that FWAs help employees achieve better work-life harmony and promote a more engaged and productive workforce, which will benefit employers.

The ministry added: “Employers who offer FWAs also benefit from better talent attraction and retention.

“As Singapore is fast becoming a ‘super-aged’ society with growing caregiver needs and a shrinking labour supply, FWAs have also become increasingly important to enable more employees to continue working or re-enter the workforce while managing their caregiving commitments.”

TWG co-chair and NTUC U SME Director Yeo Wan Ling said that NTUC had gathered vital feedback through its year-long #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations about workers’ increasing load and anxieties regarding balancing caregiving responsibilities and work aspirations.

Ms Yeo added: “NTUC is glad that the tripartite partners are now moving to introduce Tripartite Guidelines on FWAs that will make it acceptable and easier for workers to request FWAs to balance their caregiving and work commitments.

“Such progress highlights the important role employers play in helping employees thrive in the workplace and at home. We have also invited union leaders to join the workgroup to ensure workers’ concerns are adequately represented.”

The guidelines

Employers can voluntarily adopt the Tripartite Standard on FWAs (TS-FWA), which sets out best practices in offering FWAs and handling FWA requests.

The upcoming guidelines will build on the best practices under TS-FWA to clarify the norms and expectations around providing and using FWAs for employers and employees.

The guidelines will include processes to request for FWAs and how employers should fairly consider and respond to such requests.

The guidelines also seek mutual understanding and trust between employers and employees by discussing suitable FWAs supporting business and employees’ needs.

The tripartite partners also recognise that taking a calibrated and enabling approach is important to implement FWAs effectively and responsibly.

The workgroup convenes

At the first meeting on 7 September 2023, members of the TWG agreed on the scope and focus areas of the TWG’s work.

The deliverables of the TWG include:

  1. Developing guidelines to ensure that FWA requests are fairly and properly considered practically, taking into account both workers’ and business needs
  2. Developing a strategy to support employers and employees in following the guidelines
  3. Developing recommendations to promote effective and sustainable provision and utilisation of FWAs

The TWG expects to submit its recommendations to the Government. The Tripartite Guidelines on FWAs will be launched by 2024.