Employers and staff encouraged to be open to flexible work arrangements, including 4-day work weeks: MOS Gan Siow Huang

Four-day work weeks have been piloted in countries like Ireland, Spain and Japan.

Ernest Cheng

Has an unhealthy obsession with iced lemon tea.

Published: 14 September 2022, 5:28 PM

Employers and employees are strongly encouraged to “be open” to flexible work arrangements, including four-day work weeks, said Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang in Parliament on Tuesday.

This would help both groups identify and adopt specific work arrangements that best suit the unique needs of businesses and workers, explained Ms Gan, who noted that a four-day work week may work well for some employers, but not others.

Ms Gan was responding to a query from MP Melvin Yong (Radin Mas), on whether there were any studies being conducted to examine the feasibility of a four-day work week in Singapore.

She added that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is currently not aware of any ongoing studies conducted by third parties, but acknowledged that there are reports of four-day work week pilots in countries like Ireland, Spain and Japan.

In Belgium, employees are given the right to request for a four-day work week, but with daily work hours extended so that the total number of hours worked in a week remains the same.

This has brought about mixed results, she said, explaining that some key concerns that arose include the reduced work week’s impact on productivity, business costs and employee well-being.

Ms Gan said: “In some instances, reduced work hours have had to be compensated by hiring more labour.

“At the same time, employees are concerned that their salaries could be reduced due to fewer hours worked, while some could face increased stress when they work more hours than usual in a day to complete their work.”

Mr Melvin Yong asked if MOM had any intentions of conducting a small-scale trial amongst its employees or other parts of the public service, to help one better understand the pros and cons of a four-day work week.

Ms Gan responded by saying that MOM “does not intend to specify any trial or impose any formulas” on the public sector, due to the diverse needs of different sectors and roles.

However, employees and employers can consider trialing the type of flexible work arrangements that they feel best suit their respective workplaces, she said.

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