Forum: Letter of the week #3 Keep work matters to stipulated office hours

A family flies kites at Marina Barrage on Aug 11, 2019.
A family flies kites at Marina Barrage on Aug 11, 2019.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Singapore's most important resource is manpower. However, the supply of this resource is in danger, with the fertility rate last year dropping to 1.14, compounded by a 1.8 per cent increase in the number of deaths (Number of babies born here drops to 8-year low, July 22).

Even if policies and practices see more rehiring of senior citizens, the sustainable way forward is to ensure a healthy replacement rate.

Concerns about the global economy and climate change may play a part in dissuading couples from bearing children, Professor Jean Yeung, director of the Centre for Family and Population Research at the National University of Singapore, was quoted as saying.

But voluntary welfare organisation I Love Children discovered that long work hours and stress from work were the main culprits, leaving couples too tired and distracted to have sex (Most couples not aware of fertility issues: Survey, July 5). Many Singaporeans also lack sleep - again, work-related stress was the source of the problem.

Employers, supervisors and co-workers are to blame. They send work-related messages and e-mails after office hours, on weekends and when colleagues are on leave. Even if an immediate response is not requested, there is pressure to reply.

If the Government is serious about safeguarding Singapore's most vital resource, it should implement regulations prohibiting contact by colleagues on work-related matters outside of office hours, including weekends and when the employee is on leave.

While I commend SMRT supervisor Ulfah Khairiah Aman's selfless act of cancelling her honeymoon to cover for her colleague (She skips honeymoon to cover colleague on military training, Oct 18), we should not continue to endorse a culture that places work above personal life.

Work should be kept to stipulated office hours. We cannot stop one choosing to work outside of those hours, but we should at least safeguard those who prefer to keep work and personal life separate.

Adam Reutens-Tan