This article was first published on 30 December 2019 and updated to reflect changes to the Enhanced Work-Life Grant eligibility as telecommuting and staggered hours are no longer accepted as eligible flexible work arrangements.
COVID-19 has changed the working landscape drastically in a span of months. As government implemented circuit breaker and safe distancing measures, non-essential services were mandated to convert to telecommuting and remote work. Working from home has become the new normal.
Even as the pandemic measures have eased and we have moved to Phase 2 of the circuit breaker, most offices are still maintaining some form of flexible working arrangements. In a way, COVID-19 has accelerated the move toward non-traditional working hours.
Working hours are no longer restrained to 9-to-5 schedules, or Monday-to-Friday work weeks. Increasingly, employees are valuing flexibility in their work schedules. Workers are more likely to stay with a company that offers flexible work arrangements, according to Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Conditions of Employment report.
Flexible Work Makes For Happier Employees
Flexible work refers to non-traditional working schedules, varying in start and end times, work location and even job responsibilities. It is typically an arrangement that doesn’t conform to the standard nine-to-five.
Greater emphasis is placed on work flexibility because it accounts for an employee’s personal needs and family obligations. Working parents may benefit from shifting their working hours earlier if they send their kids to school. Having a healthy work-life balance reduces stress and keeps employees happy.
Providing work from home days may be favourable for workers who care for someone at home. With workplace flexibility, it cultivates a healthier and happier workforce, allowing employees to perform their best and boosting productivity.
Read Also: Here’s Why Small Businesses In Singapore Need To Care About Employee Retention
What Is The Enhanced Work-Life Grant (WLG)?
The Enhanced Work-Life Grant (WLG) aims to incentivise and support companies to sustain the use of Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) for all employees, to create work-life harmony at the workplace.
Under this grant, you can receive funding capped at $105,000 per company, up to two years, $70,000 under the Flexible Working Arrangement (FWA) Incentive and $35,000 under the Job Sharing Incentive
To apply for either scheme, companies can only do so through these official partners: NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF). Application is free.
What Is The Flexible Working Arrangement (FWA) Incentive?
Under the FWA, you can claim up to $70,000 for your company over two years. Each year, you can receive $2,000 per local employee. The condition is that your employee must have adopted a flexible working arrangement for six consecutive months.
The three types of FWAs recognised are:
Flexi-Time: Employees can vary the time they start work so long as they fulfil the total hours agreed in a week or month, in the office. It could be staggered working hours or a compressed work week. This can cater to parents who wish to start and end work earlier, or an employee who is attending classes after work.
Flexi-Place: Allowing your employees to work outside of the office is a form of flexi-place arrangement. It is also commonly known as telecommuting, remote work or hot-desking. As an employer, you can set a requirement for core times or days that your worker has to be in the office.
As 1 June 2020, in line with the end of Circuit Breaker, companies can no longer apply for Work-Life Grant for telecommuting and staggered hours. Other types of FWAs are still eligible for the grant.
Flexi-Load: With this arrangement, employees receive varying duties or workload. A common example is part-time work, which means working less than 35 hours per week. Such an arrangement may be preferable for pregnant moms who wish to lessen their load or senior employees looking to shorten their working hours.
Requirements For FWA Incentive
Companies have to submit the following documents to either of the three partners:
- Proof of adoption of the Tripartite Standard (TS) on FWAs
- Proof of regular usage of FWAs, including a claim form completed by each employee claimed
- Impact evaluation report using the template provided
- List of employee(s) who is/are regular users of FWAs
- Copies of employees’ employment contracts and CPF Form 90 (CPF Contribution Statement)
Adopting the Tripartite Standard on FWAs requires certain practices. These include having a senior management employee to be on FWA and a structured process in place for employees to apply for a FWA. For more details, you may view Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP)’s guide here.
Job Sharing Incentive
This incentive is an arrangement where two or more employees share the same job, but have different working hours. There could be time overlap to allow for adequate communication.
It is only for Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMET) employees. The PMET employee must be drawing a gross monthly salary of at least $3,600 before the job sharing arrangement. You can receive $3,500 per employee each year. The amount claimable is capped at $35,000 over two years.
You must submit the following documents upon application:
- Proof of adoption of the Tripartite Standards on FWAs
- Proof of job sharing arrangement, including a claim form completed by each employee claimed and the employees taking on the redistributed work, as well as other supporting documents to reflect the change such as employee’s salary and working hours before and after the job sharing arrangement
- Impact evaluation report using the template provided
- List of employee(s) who is/are on job sharing arrangements
- Copies of employees’ employment contracts, CPF Form 90 and payslips before and after job sharing
Read Also: 4 Financial Ratios That Startup Owners In Singapore Need To Know
Embracing Flexibility In The Workplace
In time to come, work flexibility will be the new era of work. Harness this momentum – be it through funding from government grants or setting up the necessary technology – and set up a formalised program for flexible work. That’ll ensure that you can maximise the benefits and stay on top as a competitive employer.
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