Social activities for singles and advice for stressed workers among the tripartite standards to promote harmony between work and private life

SINGAPORE – Organizing social activities for single employees, providing stressed workers with career counseling and subsidizing workers’ gym memberships and even part of their vacation expenses are some employment practices recommended in a new tripartite standard to strengthen harmony between work and private life in Singapore.

Launched on Monday April 27, these employee assistance plans cover areas such as family, health, mental well-being, lifestyle, staff development as well as workplace policies relating to working hours.

The standard recommends that employers provide enhanced leaves for staff, appoint a senior executive to champion work-life harmony, and regularly review the effectiveness of its work-life harmony programs. for example through surveys or group discussions.

The Tripartite Standard on Work-Life Harmony was developed by the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Federation of Employers (SNEF), in response to recommendations of the Citizens’ Panel on Work-Life Harmony as part of the Singapore Together movement.

In a joint press release, the three organizations noted that the standard recognizes that employees at different stages of their lives have different priorities and aims to help them effectively manage both their work responsibilities and their personal aspirations to achieve harmony between professional and private life.

“In this new normal, Singaporeans are increasingly used to hybrid working, but are also increasingly concerned about the blurring of work-life boundaries, and hope to be able to better balance work and personal commitments,” said said Minister of State for Labor Gan Siow. Huang, who launched the standard, noted.

“It has given us the impetus to consider how we can better support employers and employees to achieve work-life balance,” she said, adding that adopting the new standard “will be a step in the right direction”.

This standard includes recommendations on flexible working arrangements such as staggered hours and job sharing presented in an earlier tripartite standard from 2017.

The latest standard also recommends that employers allow all workers to leave earlier than the usual end time on designated days.

“It can range from a general decision banning meetings after a certain time to allowing employees to leave the office a few hours early.”

Employers are also recommended to make appropriate arrangements for employees with care responsibilities, including telecommuting or provide for additional leave, as well as

Ms. Yeo Wan Ling, Director of the NTUC Women and Family Unit, called on employers to consider how the concept of work-life balance should also apply to men.

“It is crucial that men contribute to care needs within the family so that ultimately both women and men experience work-life harmony,” she added.

To help companies take the first step towards adopting the standard, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) will be hosting clinics and workshops.

On its website, Tafep suggests that to meet the diverse needs of employees, companies can also give them the option to choose from a range of benefits.

“These types of plans are popular because they give employees the freedom to choose the benefits they prefer.”

Joel C. Hicks