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Netizens call for progressive flexi-work mindset amid employer overseas hiring hints

Singapore’s new guidelines for flexible work arrangements stir employer concerns, hinting at potential hiring from cheaper overseas markets. Netizens push for a progressive mindset, citing benefits of flexibility for companies.



As Singapore introduces tripartite guidelines for flexible work arrangements starting in December this year, CNA reports that employers are expressing concerns over the new requirements, with some considering hiring from cheaper labour markets abroad.

On Monday (15 April), Singapore launched the new Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA) Requests. Effective December of this year, all employers are required to establish a formal process for employees to request flexible work arrangements.

According to the guidelines, employers are expected to respond to FWA requests within two months of receiving them.

While employers maintain the right to decline such requests, their decisions must be justified by reasonable business grounds, such as cost or productivity concerns. They should include the reason for rejection in the written decision.

Furthermore, the guidelines outline what constitutes unreasonable grounds for rejecting requests.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) of Singapore stated that in instances where employers are non-compliant or deliberately refuse to adhere to the guidelines, the ministry may issue warnings and mandate attendance at corrective workshops.

According to CNA, some employers are apprehensive about the potential impact of FWAs on local hiring, with concerns prompting consideration of overseas labour markets where costs are lower.

They fear that the increased flexibility could lead to difficulties in operations and may incentivize hiring from lower-cost labour markets outside Singapore.

Additionally, there are concerns about the practical challenges of implementing flexi-work arrangements, especially for frontline staff where physical presence is essential.

Netizens advocate for progressive workplace culture

In response to employers’ reactions to the FWAs announcement, several netizens commenting on CNA’s Facebook post expressed disappointment with what they perceived as employer resistance to change.

They pointed out the widespread acceptance of remote work and encouraged a shift towards a more progressive mindset, suggesting that embracing flexibility is not only feasible but also beneficial for companies.

Fadly Azad, a member of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), observed that negative feedback appears to primarily originate from startups and entrepreneurs.

He suggested that these employers seemingly will prioritize employees’ physical presence in the office and response times to work emails and messages over key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics.

“Employees are not taking flexible arrangements to party”

Another netizen pointed out that “employees are not taking flexible arrangements to party”, asserting that FWAs are instead pro-family measures intended to support individuals with caregiving responsibilities, such as those with young children, disabled family members, or elderly relatives to care for.

She emphasized the importance of providing valid reasons for employers to consider when evaluating requests for flexible work arrangements.

Some netizens highlighted the financial benefits of working from home, such as saving on transportation costs.

Others pointed out the environmental benefits of remote work, mentioning that it could lead to savings on electricity and other resources if office spaces are used less frequently.

They also noted that even managers, CEOs, and directors are embracing remote work, indicating its broader acceptance and potential benefits for companies.

One netizen urged employers to adopt a more progressive mindset, particularly considering the extensive experience many have had with remote work during lockdown periods.

He pointed out that numerous Europeans and Americans are successfully working remotely from Southeast Asia, setting an example for local companies to follow.

The comment encouraged employers not to use the shift towards flexible work arrangements as an excuse to hire fewer Singaporeans.

Another netizen questioned why expatriates from Western countries are often hired to work in Singapore, even when they could theoretically work remotely from their home countries.

The comment suggested that this practice contradicts the reluctance of some employers to hire Singaporeans when negotiating flexibility in work arrangements.

She pointed out the inconsistency in prioritizing overseas hires over local talent, especially when it comes to bargaining for flexibility in work arrangements.

‘Positive and inclusive move’

On the other hand, observing on LinkedIn, certain members also weigh in the debate, with some commend the move as a significant advancement in supporting employees’ needs and well-being.

However, others point out potential challenges for workers in justifying their salaries if physical presence in an office becomes unnecessary.

Alva Chew, a Singaporean businessman mentioned that that his company has been WFH even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and currently, they are entirely remote across all their locations.

He believes that for industries other than construction, frontline hospitality, F&B, and retail, most business operations can be conducted remotely with a mindset shift and adjustments to standard operating procedures (SOPs) and technological frameworks.

“But the real question for a lot of Singaporean workers would be this: are you still able to justify your salary if physical presence in an office is no longer a must-have? ”

Andy Willett, editor at makeit:work media, acknowledged the Singapore’s FWAs recognisation, commending it as a positive and inclusive move, especially for the caregivers in society.

Dion Thai, a partner at Deloitte, commended the recognition of flexible work arrangements (FWAs), emphasizing that it represents a significant advancement towards promoting work-life balance and supporting employees’ well-being.

She praised Singapore for prioritizing flexibility and adapting to the changing needs of the workforce. This positive acknowledgment reflects the importance of FWAs in fostering a healthier and more sustainable work environment.

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Flexi worker will be out, no need to be in Sg.
Same go for the biz, no need to be in Sg.
Not resident, no need pay tax so not needed in Sg.

PAP creates problems to solve another problem.

This can of worms started from the period of pandemic. Now these worms are now crawling all over the place.

Instead of cleaning up, PAP just allow more worms to get out.

Does this FWA applied for foreigners too? If it does, then it is not for locals but make it more attractive for foreigners to come work here?

Absurdly strange – how this PAP tackle simple problems. Appears as though the make things, simple solutions appear complicated in order pple buy into the process of their solution skills.

How is this related to address to RESOLVE DREADED SUPER LOW PRODUCTIVITY?

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