Greater Adoption of Work-Life Initiatives by Employers in Singapore to Include Flexi-Work and Leave Benefits

November 22, 20164:47 pm394 views

More employers in Singapore are now providing ad-hoc flexible work arrangements and leave benefits to help employees cope with personal and family commitments.  Firms that implement work-life initiatives tend to have lower employee turnover. These are the key findings from the “Conditions of Employment 2016” report released by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department, Ministry of Manpower.

The proportion of firms which provided unplanned time-off or ad-hoc tele-working for their employees rose from 70 percent in 2015 to 77 percent in 2016.  These firms employ 82 percent of all employees, up from 76 percent in 2015.

The share of full-time employees who had at least 15 days of paid annual leave rose from 42 percent in 2014 to 45 percent in 2016. Management and executives continued to have more days of annual leave entitlement compared to rank-and-file employees.

The proportion of employees working in firms which offered at least one formal FWA also rose, from 65 percent in 2015 to 67 percent in 2016, even though the proportion of such firms was unchanged. Common forms of flexible work arrangements include giving workers unplanned time-off (75 percent), allowing them to work part-time (35 percent) and report earlier or later for work (23 percent). Among ad-hoc FWAs, unplanned time-off (75 percent) was more common than tele-working (21 percent).

More employers are also offering leave benefits beyond the statutory requirements to retain talent in the region. The leave benefits not mandated by the law help employees cope with personal and family commitments.  Employers were more generous in providing compassionate leave (92 percent), marriage leave (74 percent), and study/examination leave (40 percent).

Based on firm-level data, resignation rates were lower among firms that offer a larger number of formal flexible work arrangements to their employees, have higher proportion of full-time employees on a 5-day work-week, and also have a higher proportion of full-time employees with longer annual leave entitlement.

Absenteeism due to illness has been stable over the years, although it rose slightly in 2015. In 2015, 60 percent employees took outpatient sick leave, each averaging about 4.8 days of sick leave per absentee, slightly higher than 2013 (58 percent and 4.7 days).

Less common forms of paid leave include parental care/sick leave (19 percent) and childcare sick leave (17 percent). On the whole, the rate of provision of non-statutory leave has increased compared to 2014. More establishments also offer unpaid leave to their employees to pursue personal interest or to attend to family matters, from 42 percent in 2014 to 54 percent in 2016.

Reflecting the higher share of management and executives, the 5-day work arrangement was the norm in Information and communications (90 percent), financial and insurance services (85 percent), education (84 percent) and professional services (77 percent). On the other hand, a 5½-day or 6-day work-week was more common in construction, and industries with more frontline employees including cleaning and landscaping. In industries providing round-the-clock services such as security and investigation (49 percent) and accommodation (45 percent), shift work was more common.

The survey covered private sector establishments each with at least 25 employees and the public sector comprising government ministries, organs of state and statutory boards. A total of 3,800 establishments employing 1,335,100 employees responded to the survey.

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