News & Updates

Tripartite Guidelines that Shape the Right Norms and Expectations around Flexible Work Arrangements to Come into Effect on 1 Dec 2024

16 April 2024

The Government has accepted all 10 recommendations by the Tripartite Workgroup on the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA) Requests (Annex A). The mandatory Guidelines will shape the right norms and expectations around FWAs, by setting out how employees should request for FWAs and use them, and how employers and supervisors should handle FWA requests. Employers are expected to abide by the Guidelines when they come into effect on 1 December 2024. The Guidelines are aimed at making it easier for employees to request for FWAs, while acknowledging that employers continue to have the prerogative to decide on work arrangements. More information on the Workgroup’s recommendations and the Guidelines can be found at go.gov.sg/twgreport and go.gov.sg/tgfwar respectively.

2 The Tripartite Workgroup was convened in September 2023 to develop a set of Guidelines for FWA requests to be considered in a practical manner, taking into account the needs of employees and businesses (refer to Annex B for composition of Workgroup). The Tripartite Workgroup has benefitted from consultations with a range of stakeholders – including employees, employers, and human resource professionals – who agree that communication and trust between employers and employees are necessary for FWAs to be effective and sustainable (refer to Annex C for the list of stakeholders engaged by the Workgroup). As such, the Guidelines establish how formal FWA requests should be made, how employers should consider such requests in a proper manner, and the requirement to communicate decisions on such requests in a transparent and timely manner.

3 To maintain a harmonious workplace culture, based on trust and reciprocity, the Tripartite Workgroup has recommended taking an enabling and educational approach in implementing the Guidelines. This includes equipping employees and employers with the resources and skills to make and properly consider FWA requests. Employees can seek assistance from the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices should employers not adhere to the requirements in the Guidelines.

4 Mr Edwin Ng, co-chair of the Tripartite Workgroup said, “While more employers have implemented FWAs, there may be specific needs of an individual employee which may not be covered by his or her employer’s FWA policy. As such, the Tripartite Guidelines on FWA Requests will guide employees to make requests for FWAs responsibly and help employers assess such requests properly. This would help to maintain harmonious employment relations as both employees and employers can discuss practical and sustainable work arrangements that can meet the needs of both parties. Nonetheless, employers can and should continue with their existing FWA practices if they have worked well for them and their employees.”

5 Ms Yeo Wan Ling, co-chair of the Tripartite Workgroup said, “Access to Flexible Work Arrangements is often the main consideration for caregivers, women workers and senior workers when it comes to deciding to stay or return to the workforce. The Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement Requests is a milestone enhancement to the normalisation of FWAs in the workplace, as it puts into place formalised and clear processes for workers to request for flexible work arrangements. At the heart of successful FWA implementations is the building of a trust culture in the workplace. NTUC and our union leaders will continue working with our tripartite partners to bring win-win outcomes for our employers and workers.”

6 Ms Gan Siow Huang, Minister of State for Manpower, and co-chair of the Tripartite Workgroup, said, “Flexible work arrangements can be beneficial for both employees and employers. They enable employees to achieve better work-life harmony, and give employers a competitive advantage in talent attraction and retention. To reap these benefits, FWAs must be implemented on the basis of trust and mutual understanding between employer and employee. The Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement Requests will shape norms and expectations around FWAs so that our workplaces can be more inclusive and productive.”

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ANNEX A
Summary of Recommendations for Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement Requests (TG-FWAR)

•Recommendation 1: The TG-FWAR should establish a clear set of workplace norms around requesting FWAs and considering FWA requests. This will better manage employees’ and employers’ expectations on the process and their respective obligations. These guidelines set out the minimum requirements, and do not preclude employers from adopting more progressive practices.

•Recommendation 2: The TG-FWAR should guide the process of requesting and considering FWAs, and not the outcome of FWA requests.

•Recommendation 3: The TG-FWAR should require employers to properly consider FWA requests based on business grounds, and employees to request and use FWAs responsibly.

•Recommendation 4: The TG-FWAR should only apply to formal FWA requests. Formal requests may be defined as requests that are documented and that contains the information needed to help the employer make an informed decision.

•Recommendation 5: The TG-FWAR should cover employees only after they have completed probation, the duration of which may be determined by employers.

•Recommendation 6: The TG-FWAR should not require employers to consider FWA requests from jobseekers. However, employers could still state their FWA approach or policy in job advertisements and interviews, to manage jobseekers’ expectations on the FWAs they can provide.

•Recommendation 7: The TG-FWAR should cover all employers, including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Guides and templates should be provided to help all employers comply.

•Recommendation 8: Adopt an educational and enabling approach to implementing the TG-FWAR, with a focus on equipping employees and employers with the resources and skills to make and properly consider FWA requests respectively.

•Recommendation 9: Strengthen communications and engagement to help employers understand how FWAs can help their businesses and raise awareness of the types of FWAs available. This builds on the progressive practices that were promoted under the Tripartite Advisory and Tripartite Standard on FWAs, which will be replaced by the TG-FWAR and its accompanying resource package.

•Recommendation 10: Provide greater support for employers to build and invest in critical FWA implementation capabilities. Resources and training to build capabilities on FWAs should be scaled up in partnership with key business and employee associations and unions. Resources should be customised to cater for different firm sizes, sectors, and nature of work.

ANNEX B

Composition of Tripartite Workgroup on Flexible Work Arrangements

Chairpersons

S/N  Name Designation
1 Ms Gan Siow Huang Minister of State, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Manpower
2

Ms Yeo Wan Ling

Director, Women and Family (WAF) / U SME

3

Mr Edwin Ng

SNEF Honorary Secretary

Sub-Group Chairpersons

4 Ms Faith Li General Manager, Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices
5

 Mr Aslam Sardar

Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Human Resource Professionals

Members

S/N  Name Designation
6 Mr Ng Chee Khern Permanent Secretary
7

Ms Jessie Chiu

Union Leader, Singapore Union of Broadcasting Employees (SUBE)

8

Ms Pravita D/O Nithiah Nandan

Union Leader, National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU)

9

Mr Ang Yuit

ASME Deputy President

10

Mr Thian Tai Chew

Executive Director of Jobs & Skills Division

11

Mr Ye Yongfeng

Director, Public Sector Transformation

ANNEX C
List of Community Organisations, Companies, Trade Associations and Unions Engaged

Community Organisations
  • Association of Women for Action and Research
  • Centre for Fathering
  • Centre for Seniors
  • Financial Women’s Association
  • People’s Association Women’s Integration Network Council
  • Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations
  • SG Enable
  • SG Her Empowerment
  • Singapore Muslim Women’s Association

Companies

  • Chye Thiam Maintenance Pte Ltd
  • AsiaOne Online Pte Ltd
  • Hanbaobao Pte Ltd

Trade Associations and Chambers

  • Singapore National Employers Federation
  • Association of Small and Medium Enterprises
  • Singapore Business Federation
  • Singapore International Chamber of Commerce
  • Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce & Industry
  • Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry
  • Association of Informational Security Professional
  • Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants
  • Restaurant Association of Singapore
  • SG Tech
  • Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association
  • Singapore Logistics Association
  • Singapore Manufacturing Federation
  • Singapore Retailers Association
  • Singapore Shipping Association
  • Singapore Transport Association
  • The Law Society of Singapore 

Unions

  • Amalgamated Union of Public Employees
  • Attractions, Resorts & Entertainment Union
  • Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees’ Union
  • Creative Media and Publishing Union
  • DBS Staff Union
  • Food Drinks and Allied Workers’ Union
  • Housing and Development Board Staff Union
  • Healthcare Services Employees’ Union
  • Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore Staff Union
  • National Transport Workers’ Union
  • Public Utilities Board Employees’ Union
  • Singapore Chinese Teachers’ Union
  • Singapore Airlines Staff Union
  • Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Employees’ Union
  • The Singapore Manual & Mercantile Workers’ Union
  • Singapore Organisation of Seamen
  • Singapore Teachers’ Union
  • Union of Tripartite Alliance Limited
  • United Workers of Electronics & Electrical Industries
  • U SME