international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

Singapore: Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement Requests to come into effect on 1 December 2024

On 4 March 2024, it was announced at the Committee of Supply 2024 that the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement requests (“Guidelines”) were being developed.

We have set out a summary of the Announcement in our legal update dated 26 March 2024, which can be found here

It was recently announced on 16 April 2024 that the Singapore Government has accepted all recommendations (further listed below) by the Tripartite Workgroup on the Guidelines and that the Guidelines will come into effect on 1 December 2024.

Once implemented, the Guidelines will shape norms and expectations around flexible work arrangements, by setting out how employees should request for flexible work arrangements and use them, and how employers and supervisors should handle flexible work arrangement requests.

The Guidelines is aimed at making it easier for employees to request for flexible work arrangements, while acknowledging that employers continue to have the prerogative to decide on work arrangements. Employers will be required to ensure that they comply with the Guidelines, which is mandatory. It is currently unclear if there will be any penalties for non-compliance. However, we understand that employees can seek assistance from the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices should employers not adhere to the requirements in the Guidelines.

A copy of the Guidelines can be found here. Please note that the Guidelines set out the minimum requirements, and do not preclude employers from adopting more progressive practices.

A summary of the recommendations by the Tripartite Workgroup on the Guidelines, which have been accepted by the Singapore Government are as follows:

  1. The Guidelines should establish a clear set of workplace norms around requesting flexible work arrangements and considering such requests to better manage employees’ and employers’ expectations on the process and their respective obligations.
  2. The Guidelines should guide the process of requesting and considering flexible work arrangements, and not the outcome of flexible work arrangement requests.
  3. The Guidelines should require employers to properly consider flexible work arrangement requests based on business grounds, and employees to request and use flexible work arrangements responsibly.
  4. The Guidelines should only apply to formal flexible work arrangement requests such as requests that are documented and contain the information needed for the employer make an informed decision.
  5. The Guidelines should cover all employees who have completed probation, the duration of which may be determined by employers.
  6. The Guidelines should not require employers to consider flexible work arrangement requests from jobseekers. However, employers could still state their flexible work arrangement approach or policy in job advertisements and interviews, to manage jobseekers’ expectations on the flexible work arrangements they can provide.
  7. The Guidelines should cover all employers, including Small and Medium Enterprises. Guides and templates should be provided to help all employers comply.
  8. An educational and enabling approach should be implemented when adopting the Guidelines, with a focus on equipping employees and employers with the resources and skills to make and properly consider flexible work arrangement requests respectively.
  9. Communications and engagements regarding the Guidelines should be strengthened to help employers understand how flexible work arrangements can help their businesses and raise awareness of the types of flexible work arrangements available.
  10. Greater support such as resources and trainings should be provided to employers to build and invest in critical flexible work arrangement implementation capabilities.