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Two-thirds of Singaporeans feel obliged to work long hours



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If you venture into Singapore’s Central Business District after 7 pm, don’t be surprised if you see locals still working hard in offices.

In fact, according to the latest Working Hours Survey from Morgan McKinley, about two-thirds of 1,000 respondents stated that they feel obliged to work longer than their contracted hours.

This percentage was only 10% less than in 2014.

The latest survey pointed out that of those working beyond their contracted hours, nearly 90% are not paid for this overtime.

Thankfully for Singapore employers, the survey found that around 80% of those who said they worked beyond their contracted hours felt more productive during this time.

Andrew Evans, managing director, Morgan McKinley Singapore commented: “This bears out in what we hear day-in, day-out from professionals: they do not mind working beyond contracted hours – within reason – so long as the time is productive, and with 80% reporting that it is productive this is positive news.”

Despite the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) setting the legal limit at 44 hours a week, the survey found that 12% of professionals contracted to work more than 46 hours.

It pointed out that 35% of respondents felt that long working hours had a significant impact and required them to make sacrifices in terms of their personal and family life.

Evans said: “It is refreshing to see that companies are adopting a broad range of strategies to lessen the impact of long working hours.

“Singapore-based professionals are among the hardest working in the world and when we conducted the 2014 survey it seemed that the strain was becoming intolerable for many.”

ALSO READ: Singaporeans clocking in an average of 45.6 hours at work every week

Evans pointed out that while there is still progress that needs to be made, it appears that many organisations have taken on board the MOM’s message that a work-life friendly workplace is a win-win situation for both employers and employees.

The survey found that almost half of those surveyed said their employer offered home-office working as an option, while two-thirds said they could exercise discretion on start and finish times and more than a third could take time off in lieu of extra hours worked.

With technological change blurring the lines between work, home and travel, the survey pointed out that the remote working trend is expected to continue.

The survey found that 75% of respondents work remotely at least on occasion, with 15% also working remotely at weekends.

However, it found that 40% of employers do not allow employees to work remotely at their own discretion or even occasionally while only 10% allow it as a matter of company policy.

“With Generation Y and even some Generation Z entering the workforce we strongly believe that more flexible working arrangements will play an even greater role in attracting and retaining the most talented and dedicated professionals,” Evans said.

“Employers will need to work closely with employees to uncover what financial and non-financial factors are important to them,” he added.

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