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    Jun 19, 2014

    Go flexible to get out of labour squeeze

    EVEN as the labour crunch bites, many mature workers think of quitting while some mums stay at home.

    Two moves were announced yesterday to attract this pool of talent back into the workforce.

    For one thing, there will be more monetary incentives for companies to create more flexible workplaces, Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, Amy Khor, announced yesterday at the Age Management Seminar 2014.

    There will also be a new programme to help employers implement "good age management practices".

    With tight labour market conditions and foreign workers' levies set to rise next month, flexible work arrangements can attract mature workers to stay and entice stay-at-home mothers to re-enter the workforce, said experts.

    "This is a timely move, especially with more employees wanting more flexible work arrangements," said Erman Tan, president of the Singapore Human Resources Institute.

    With the current manpower crunch, companies "should try and embrace the needs of their employees" by offering stay-at-home mums and older workers part-time arrangements, or the flexibility to work from home, added Mr Tan.

    Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Kurt Wee shared Mr Tan's sentiments and highlighted how it would be especially beneficial for SMEs which are "starved of labour".

    "The programmes would definitely help SMEs with the cost of implementing flexible work arrangements," said Mr Wee. But he said that companies would need to spell out their productivity expectations clearly to these potential workers.

    Mr Tan said that firms here are "a bit close minded" when it comes to flexible work arrangements.

    From next month, employers will be able to try out a flexible work scheme under the Work-Life Grant with a new $10,000 incentive to pilot flexible work arrangements and "identify what works best for the company and workers", said Dr Khor.

    Those that proceed to introduce these arrangements company-wide will receive an additional $10,000.

    Employers can get total funding of up to $40,000 for the scheme.

    Employers are eligible for a cash incentive of up to $25,000, even if only one-fifth of their workers use flexi-work arrangements.

    This is on top of the current measure where employers can receive up to $40,000 a year if they have 30 per cent of their workers taking up the arrangements.

    Companies can potentially receive a maximum of $120,000 if they sustain such arrangements over three years.

    Meanwhile, a new health programme is being launched to address the needs of ageing workers.

    To apply for this, firms must send a staff member for a new course that helps him make health assessments and design workplace health programmes.

    A health provider will be tasked to conduct a survey to better understand the health conditions of the company's mature workers.