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    Dec 10, 2014

    Flexi-work's an option at more firms here

    MORE employers in Singapore are embracing work-life balance by putting in place flexible work arrangements, a new survey has found.

    The number of firms offering some form of flexi-work benefits rose from 38 per cent last year to 47 per cent this year, according to a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) survey, the results of which were released yesterday.

    The most common flexi-work practice is allowing staff to work part-time, with 36 per cent of firms doing so. Other practices include allowing workers to report for work earlier or later, or letting them work from home.

    The increase in firms offering such benefits comes on the back of "the tight labour market and ongoing initiatives which support work-life harmony", MOM said in a media release announcing the survey findings.

    In June, the Government announced more incentives to coax firms to offer their staff flexi-work benefits. Firms can now get a $10,000 grant to try out flexi-work arrangements and another $10,000 to implement them. Previously, they would get reimbursements only after flexi-work arrangements were implemented.

    More than 3,800 private sector firms took part in the MOM survey, conducted between June and September.

    The survey found that only 46 per cent get a five-day work week, with the rest working 51/2 or six days a week, or doing shift work.

    It found that managers and executives get a better deal than rank-and-file workers when it comes to leave and other benefits. Some 77 per cent of them work only five days a week, compared with a quarter of rank-and-file workers. About 73 per cent have at least 15 days of paid annual leave, compared with 23 per cent of rank-and-file workers.

    Under the Employment Act, workers get at least seven days of paid leave, and the leave increases to 14 days for those with eight years of continuous service.

    Said MOM in the report: "Although not a statutory requirement, many employers were generous in providing compassionate and marriage leave."

    Some 89 per cent provide compassionate leave and 71 per cent, marriage leave, the survey found.

    Singapore Human Resources Institute president Erman Tan said that the labour crunch is driving bosses to be more accommodating.

    He noted that it is harder to implement the five-day work week for rank-and-file workers than for managers and executives, as these workers are more likely to be required to be physically present at work. "Bosses have to make it up to rank-and-file workers in other ways, like giving them overtime pay," he said.