SINGAPORE: Starting in December this year, employees who have completed their probation can officially request flexible work arrangements (FWAs) from their employers.

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) announced the new Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement Requests on Tuesday, April 16.

Tafep, formed by the Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), introduced these guidelines to promote a more adaptable approach to work.

TODAY reports, although not enforceable by law, the guidelines urge all companies to establish a process for employees to submit formal FWA requests.

While they don’t mandate whether the requests should be accepted or rejected, they provide a structured framework for handling them.

This move replaces the 2014 Tripartite Advisory and the 2017 Tripartite Standard on FWAs, aiming to encourage broader adoption of flexible work practices.

Types of Flexible Work Arrangements

Employees can request variations from the standard work setup, including:

  • Flexi-place: Working from different locations, like telecommuting or working from home.
  • Flexi-time: Working at different hours without changing total work hours or workload.
  • Flexi-load: Adjusting workload with appropriate compensation, such as job sharing or part-time work.
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How to Request FWAs

Employees can formally request FWAs through the company’s work portal or a template provided in the guidelines. Employers must respond within two months, stating reasons for approval or rejection.

Rejections must be based on “reasonable business grounds.”

Reasonable Business Grounds for Rejection

Acceptable reasons for rejecting FWA requests include increased costs, decreased productivity, or practical infeasibility.

However, rejections shouldn’t be based on factors unrelated to business outcomes, such as personal preferences or organisational traditions.

The guidelines accommodate changing workforce dynamics, including “caregiving responsibilities and parenthood aspirations.”

FWAs are crucial for sustaining labour force participation, attracting talent, and supporting workers looking for flexible work arrangements. The guidelines will start in December to give businesses time to adapt and refine their processes.

Tafep, SNEF, the Institute for Human Resource Professionals, SME Centres, and the Association for Small and Medium Enterprises will provide support through training workshops, advisory services, and educational materials to help companies implement FWAs effectively. /TISG

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