Figures show flexible work arrangements flourishing in the region.

Flex in Asia.

The Manpower Research and Statistics Department has released the Conditions of Employment 2018 report, which suggests the proportion of firms offering flexible working has now risen to 53 per cent. Efforts to boost the adoption of flexible working arrangements (FWAs) clearly worked well last year as more firms provided FWAs on both formal and ad-hoc basis. The proportion of firms offering at least one formal FWA increased to 53 per cent from 50 per cent in 2017 and the proportion offering at least one ad-hoc FWA surged to 84 per cent from 75 per cent in 2017.

Due to the efforts of companies in offering FWAs, more employees had access to FWAs. In firms that had at least one formal FWA, the proportion of employees increased from 70 per cent in 2017 to 72.0 per cent in 2018. In firms that provided at least 1 ad-hoc FWA, the proportion of employees also increased, from 81 per cent in 2017 to 87 per cent in 2018.

In 2018, the proportion of full-time employees given 14 days and below of paid annual leave marked the biggest fall (-3.5 per cent), as more firms placed management and executives and rank-and-file employees on at least 15 days of annual leave.

Although work-week pattern is largely contingent on the nature of work and business operations, more firms took into account employees’ needs. In 2018, the proportion of employees that were on 5-day work week arrangement rose by 3.3 per cent and this trend was seen across all broad sectors, i.e., construction, manufacturing, and services.

Reflecting the ageing population and the changing profile and demographics of employees, the provision of family care leave and marriage leave benefits increased. At the same time, decreases were seen in the provision of other types of non-statutory leave benefits.

Outpatient sickness absence held steady at 60 per cent from 2015 to 2017, which could partly be a result of healthy living initiatives, e.g. step trackers, and reflected the ongoing efforts by firms and the government in introducing progressive, accommodative and welfare-oriented work practices to improve the general well-being of employees.

A recursive partitioning model was used to sieve out the workplace practices that affected firms’ resignation rates. These practices were ranked according to their degree of impact on staff turnover. Results showed that the provision of flexible work life arrangements had the greatest impact, followed by increases in annual leave entitlement, reduction in work-day per week, and increases in the number of non-statutory leave.

The results from a Wilcoxon rank-sum test showed that three factors can encourage employees to take up FWAs offered by their companies: 1) the presence of at least one senior management championing work-life arrangements, 2) having a system in place to manage work-life arrangements requests be it through informal or formal means, and 3) providing training on work-life arrangements for supervisors and/or employees.

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