Citizens' Panel submits 17 recommendations on work-life harmony

The panel presented its recommendations at the Lifelong Learning Institute on Nov 9, 2019. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Companies should specify their flexible work arrangements in their contracts and bosses should work side by side with their frontline employees in a national Frontline Day.

These are among the 17 recommendations that will be submitted to the Government, community groups and other relevant partners by the Citizens' Panel on Work-Life Harmony.

A panel of 55 Singaporeans from all walks of life met on four Saturdays over six weeks to deliberate on issues such as flexible working arrangements and to propose ways of strengthening work-life harmony in Singapore, including a more supportive societal and workplace culture.

The panel presented its final 17 recommendations at the fourth and final session at Lifelong Learning Institute on Saturday (Nov 9).

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said the recommendations were "holistic in nature", with a few that were "quite feasible" and can be "immediately discussed with key stakeholders" to identify the next steps in implementing them.

For instance, one of the recommendations is a Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) road map, where small- or medium-sized enterprises are incentivised with small awards as they implement more flexible work arrangements for their employees.

She said: "The implementation of flexible work arrangements is very uneven across the board, some companies may have declared that they have made it available but usage level may not be quite there yet… So can we make it easier for firms to take the next step and create a road map so they have aspirational targets to build towards?"

The Government will "seriously study" these recommendations and aims to provide a comprehensive response by early next year, she added.

Mrs Teo was joined at the session by Senior Parliamentary Secretary of Manpower and Education Low Yen Ling and Senior Parliamentary Secretary of Education, and Social and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo at the final session of the Citizens' Panel on Work-Life Harmony. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

The 17 recommendations are loosely sorted into two parts: The first to shift societal and workplace norms by creating new narratives and the second with more practical steps to enable the shift.

One of the recommendations is to include flexible work arrangements as a module in the Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP), and to incentivise human resource personnel to obtain the IHRP certification and to implement the arrangements in their companies.

Another is to break up the Government's current $100 million Work-Life Grant into "bite-sized grants" so that smaller companies can tap into the scheme.

The Citizens' Panel on Work-Life Harmony, which was first announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in June this year,is part of the SG Together movement where the Government partners Singaporeans to discuss and deliver solutions across a wide range of policy areas.

More than 300 members of the public responded to the call for participants, with the panel's first session kicking off on Sept 28.

The subsequent two sessions were held on Oct 12 and 26.

Panel member Noor Lyna Zainuddin, 34 , who is an adjunct communications lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic and National University of Singapore, said she hopes companies will take up the panel's recommendation to specify their flexi-work arrangement policy in their contracts.

She said: "Having it stated in the contracts will encourage more employees to speak up, instead of people fearing to ask about flexible work arrangement.

"It's not just for those who work in office jobs, but those in blue-collar jobs can also benefit."

The mother of two added: "I hope to see a societal mindset shift in this aspect because I want the future generation, including my kids, to enjoy work and not burn out."

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