Parliament: Budget for flexi-work grant raised to $100m; guide on job-sharing to be launched

About seven in 10 employees in Singapore currently work in companies that offer at least one formal flexi-work arrangement. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More companies will be able to tap government funding to offer staff flexible work arrangements like part-time work or working from home.

The budget for the Work-Life Grant is being increased to $100 million, up from $30 million, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling said on Tuesday (March 5).

The grant provides up to $2,000 per year for each regular user of flexi-work arrangements, capped at $70,000 for a company over two years. Companies can also claim up to $3,500 per user for job-sharing arrangements for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), capped at $35,000 over two years.

Flexi-work arrangements can include staggered working hours, telecommuting, part-time work and sharing a job load among workers.

These can support the employment of older workers, who may want to continue working but at a slower pace, said Ms Low during the debate on the Manpower Ministry's budget.

"As we move towards a more inclusive work culture and mindset, we will be better placed to make the best of our talents," she added.

"With family-friendly workplaces, employees can contribute their fullest potential without compromising their responsibilities to their loved ones. And age-friendly work practices let our seniors pass on valuable experience and knowledge as they work at their preferred pace and intensity."

The Work-Life Grant was rolled out in 2013 and was enhanced last year to make it easier for employers to qualify and to raise the quantum that can be claimed per employee. Ms Low said last month that the enhanced grant has received more than 340 applications in five months.

On Tuesday, she said that the aim of raising the grant budget is to keep the momentum of flexi-work arrangements going.

Now, about seven in 10 employees in Singapore work in companies that offer at least one formal flexi-work arrangement.

Ms Low said that to raise awareness about job-sharing, a less well-known form of flexi-work, the ministry and the Singapore National Employers Federation will launch a guide for employers in the first half of this year.

"Job-sharing would not only expand the range of (flexi-work) options, it can enhance trust, commitment and work satisfaction between employees and employers," she said.

In the Accountant-General's Department in the Ministry of Finance, for example, two mothers, Ms Lim Yu May and Ms Emily Kao, shared a job in cash management and payment processing.

Ms Lim took the morning shift so she could be home in the afternoon for her two primary school children while Ms Kao preferred to work while her toddler took his afternoon nap under her mother's watch. They spent their overlapping hour at noon to hand over information and discuss what needed to be followed up on, said Ms Low.

The job-sharing arrangement lasted from December 2013 to June 2015, and both women continue to work in the Accountant-General's Department today.

Providing an update, Ms Low said that as of end-January this year, about 1,300 employers with 400,000 staff have adopted the Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements - guidelines which employers can be recognised for adopting. The standard was launched in October 2017.

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