S'pore tripartite partners roll out measures proposed by citizens' panel to improve work-life balance

Tools are being developed to help employers who wish to include flexi-work in their employee contracts. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - A website with resources for employers as well as an online tool to identify workplace stressors have been rolled out in Singapore to boost work-life harmony.

These are some measures put in place by tripartite partners Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) in response to recommendations from the Citizens' Panel on Work-Life Harmony.

The panel, which was announced in June 2019, is part of the SG Together movement, where the Government partners Singaporeans to discuss and deliver solutions.

Convened in September 2019, the panel - made up of 55 people from diverse backgrounds - presented 17 recommendations, 12 of which the tripartite partners committed to adopting.

During a virtual appreciation event on Saturday (June 19), MOM updated participants on the progress to date. Nine suggestions have been adopted and three are being taken up.

In her opening remarks, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo, who was Manpower Minister when the panel was formed, thanked its participants for their input and noted how the Covid-19 pandemic had brought some of the issues discussed, such as flexi-work, to the forefront.

She said "a lot of the ideas that we had were brought to life as a result of the work from home being default".

"The value of the citizens' panel was the relationships that were formed and just very honest conversations between citizens and the effect has gone beyond this particular citizens panel. It was quite an important area of development for our Government to engage with our citizens deeply and with specific outcomes in mind."

In addition to the website and online assessment tool called iWorkHealth, the tripartite partners spearheaded by MOM have roped in work-life ambassadors to encourage the adoption of practices such as flexi-work.

The Institute for Human Resource Professionals has also piloted sector-specific Communities of Practice sessions on work-life harmony, which are support groups where employers can share best practices to overcome challenges to achieving work-life harmony. Sessions linked to the finance and food-service sectors have been conducted.

Meanwhile, the tripartite partners are working on resources to support flexi-work in sectors like finance, hospitality and healthcare. A tool is also being developed to help employers which wish to include flexi-work in their employee contracts.

Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang, who delivered the closing remarks at the event, said work-life harmony is beneficial to both employees and companies.

She added: "If the workplace is one that is progressive and promotes work-life harmony... then the company's ability to attract talent and recruit talent, especially Singaporean talent, will be much better."

Acknowledging the difficulties staff face in separating work and personal time amid the pandemic, she said that while there is no one-size-fits-all solution given the differing nature and hours of work across companies, efforts would continue to strengthen work-life harmony here.

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