Employers, workers responsible for ensuring success of flexible work arrangements: MOM

Both employers and employees have roles to play for flexible work arrangements to work. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - As working from home becomes more mainstream, both employers and employees have roles to play for flexible work arrangements to work.

Employees should utilise such arrangements responsibly, including being accountable for work deliverables and remaining contactable and responsive while working from home, while employers should clearly communicate expectations upfront and manage appraisals fairly based on work outcomes instead of face-to-face time, said Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang in Parliament on Wednesday (Jan 12).

She was responding to a question by Ms Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) on support for appraising and measuring the work of individuals working from home as compared to in the office.

Her comments come a day after the Manpower Ministry said on Tuesday that it would not rush to legislate work-from-home arrangements though these will become a more mainstream option.

On Wednesday, Ms Gan noted that the tripartite partners provide resources on how employers and supervisors in human resources can implement flexible work arrangements in a way that is fair, sustainable and effective.

Ms Gan also recognised that flexible work arrangements, such as working from home, can help caregivers manage their role at home while contributing economically.

The Government provides support for caregivers in several ways, such as subsidised care services and grants, encouraging widespread adoption of flexible work arrangements among employers, and measures to help all Singaporeans, including caregivers, build sufficient savings for retirement, she said.

Ms Gan was responding to questions from Ms Yeo and Ms Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) on support for women and caregivers to return to the workforce.

For example, all families with Singaporean children enrolled in an Early Childhood Development Agency-licensed childcare centre receive a universal basic subsidy, while eligible families receive additional means-tested subsidies.

Eligible Singaporeans can receive subsidies of up to 80 per cent for non-residential eldercare services, such as daycare and day rehabilitation services, among other financial support schemes.

Ms Gan noted that Singapore's full-time female employment rate has risen over the decade to 65 per cent, but a small proportion of women are still not able to participate partially or fully in the workforce due to caregiving responsibilities.

She said that in 2020, 15 per cent of female residents here aged 25 to 64 cited family-related responsibilities as their main reason for being outside the labour force, while 6 per cent were working part-time due to family or personal commitments.

In response to questions from Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson) and Ms Cheryl Chan (East Coast GRC) on female representation in different industries, Ms Gan noted that women's share among professionals, managers, executives and technicians here has increased over the 2010 -2020 decade, from 41.1 per cent to 45.6 per cent.

She added: "We are observing more women joining growth sectors such as information and communications, financial services, and health and social services."

Altogether, women make up 52.8 per cent of the workforce in those three sectors, she said.

The share of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs, while lower, has also increased from 29.9 per cent in 2015 to 32.4 per cent in 2020.

Ms Gan said: "We will continue to work with our tripartite partners and community stakeholders to support women's participation in the workforce and help them enter and remain in occupations of their choice, including in emerging sectors."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.