Employee support schemes (such as family day or subsidised health screening) and enhanced leave policies are among the seven practices listed out in Singapore's new Tripartite Standard on Work-Life Harmony.

*With inputs by Priya Sunil.

For employers looking to distinguish themselves through good employment practices in Singapore, the launch of the new Tripartite Standard on Work-Life Harmony (TS-WLH) on 26 April 2021 brings seven practices to implement at workplaces.

The following are the seven practices listed out for employers to help their workers achieve work-life harmony:

  • Adopt the Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements
  • Put in place employee support schemes (such as family day or subsidised health screening)
  • Put in place enhanced leave policies
  • Appoint a senior management member to champion work-life harmony
  • Discuss suitable arrangements with employees on caregiving responsibilities
  • Establish and communicate its work-life harmony policy to employees
  • Regularly review the effectiveness of the work-life programmes.

The new guidelines were announced at a session for the Alliance for Action (AfA) on Work-Life Harmony, and are led by Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). [Browse all the Tripartite Standards here]

Minister of State for Manpower, Gan Siow Huang launched the Tripartite Standards, where she stressed the importance of three of the seven practices: "The Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangement is key to work-life harmony and it is one of the key prerequisites for the adoption of the TS-WLH.

"The second is encouraging employers to introduce enhanced leave benefits and employee support schemes. We believe that many employees today are also caregivers for their children as well as their elderly grandparents and it is absolutely necessary for employers to have a good understanding of the support schemes needed for employees to discharge their duties well, both on the caregiving front as well as at the workplace."

The TS-WLH is the ninth jointly developed by MOM, NTUC and SNEF. Minister Gan, NTUC Women and Family Unit Director Yeo Wan Ling, and SNEF Council Member Bicky Bhangu lead the Alliance for Action on Work-Life Harmony (AfA-WLH).

Dr Bicky noted: "Close to four in five employers (78%) had implemented at least one formal type of flexible work arrangement in 2020, up from about half (53%) in 2019, in part due to the need to maintain safe operations during COVID-19.

"While this is good progress, we understand that work-life harmony goes beyond just flexible work arrangements, and there are opportunities for employers to further enhance work-life harmony practices at workplaces."

Yeo believes that the concept of work-life harmony should not only be limited to women. She shared: "We encourage employers to consider how the concept of work-life harmony applies to men. It is crucial that men contribute to caregiving needs in the family so that at the end of the day, both women and men alike experience work-life harmony."

More information on the Tripartite Standard on Work-Life Harmony

Snapshot: Purpose and specifications of Work-Life Harmony, as indicated on the website of Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP)

  1. Work-life harmony is achieved when an individual is able to effectively manage both work responsibilities and family/personal aspirations. This benefits both employers and
    • Employers have a competitive advantage as they can better attract and retain employees
      from a wider talent pool and improve employee morale and engagement for better work
    • Employees can feel sufficiently supported to effectively achieve work responsibilities as
      well as family and personal aspirations.
  2. Employer adopts the Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements (TS on FWAs).
  3. Employer has put in place employee support schemes by:
    • Providing at least two employee support schemes* for all its employees, based on
      employees’ needs; and
      Communicate to employees the different forms of employee support schemes and the
      process to apply for them (e.g. in company’s staff website, HR policy, circular or memo);
      Adopting technological tools to support work-life strategies, where relevant.

* Examples include family day, subsidised health screening, staff recreation areas etc. 

View the full specifications on this TS here (pages 11 and 12).

FAQs on the Tripartite Standard on Work-life Harmony

1. Do employers have to offer specific work-life practices in order to meet the requirements of the Tripartite Standard on Work-Life Harmony?

The Tripartite Standard on Work-Life Harmony does not prescribe specific types of work-life practices that employers must offer to employees.

Apart from offering flexible work arrangements as part of the requirements of the TS on FWAs, employers who offer any two employee support schemes and two enhanced leave benefits will be able to adopt the Tripartite Standard on Work-Life Harmony.

2. Are employers required to offer work-life practices to all employees?

Work-life practices should be offered to all employees. However, understandably certain work-life practices may not be applicable to some employees due to the nature of their jobs, for example, employees who work on the frontlines may not be able to work-from-home. If this is the case, employers should explain the reasons for differences in work-life practices offered to different employees, and offer suitable alternatives where possible.

Employers should discuss suitable work-life practices that are able to meet the needs of both employers and employees, and are encouraged to offer a range of FWAs, employee support schemes and enhanced leave benefits to better meet the different work-life needs of their employees.

View the FAQs for this TS here (pages 25-27)

Photo / Minister Gan's Facebook

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