SINGAPORE: The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) announced new guidelines this week, mandating that from December onward, employees may officially request flexible work arrangements (FWAs).

Some younger workers, however, have expressed concerns that their bosses may not be so quick to jump on the FWA bandwagon, citing examples from employees who in the past attempted to do so, but were ridiculed or rebuffed.

Read also: Employees can now request flexible work arrangements starting December 2024

One marketing executive told TODAY that her suggestion to her now former boss that working at home would add to her productivity, given her daily three-hour commute from Pasir Ris to Yishun, was not only dismissed but ridiculed.

While the Gen Z workers whom TODAY spoke to said that FWAs are a step in the right direction, others wondered how effective a step it would be, since they have no legal power.

Others expressed fears that requesting FWAs would affect their reputation at work—as colleagues may perceive them as lazy, and some said that asking for flexible work could hinder their career trajectory.

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FWAs would work better if there were a larger perspective shift regarding work from merely putting in hours at the office to actual productivity and efficiency.

“No matter how many flexible work plans or incentives there are, these won’t fix a punitive culture where employees are made to feel like primary school kids being surveilled, rather than grown adults who are equal partners in ensuring company success,” one worker said to TODAY.

Meanwhile, the announcement of Tafep’s guidelines on FWA was hailed in a piece in Fortune this week.

“Singapore’s government, in mandating companies take flexible-work requests seriously, joins other forward-thinking countries like the United Kingdom and Ireland—both of which have encoded similar requirements in recent weeks—as well as Finland, Portugal, and Belgium.”

Nevertheless, the piece adds that the guidelines are “not a silver bullet,” since employers can still turn down requests if they believe that they would hinder workers’ ability to get their jobs done.

Earlier this month, the People at Work 2023 study from ADP Research Institute shone a light on workers’ attitudes, aspirations, wants, and needs all over the world, including Singapore’s employees.

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The study, which covered over 32,000 workers in 17 countries is one of the biggest surveys all over the globe.

“For workers in Singapore, this much is crystal clear: flexible working arrangements are imperative. One in three Singaporean workers expects four-day work weeks to become the norm within the next five years,” the study said. /TISG

Read also: 1 in 10 SG workers favor flexible work over traditional five-day office week: Survey