As we gradually ease back to working in physical offices, hybrid working and teleworking seem to be here to stay even after the pandemic. This is understandably so as workers start to acclimate to this new way of working. Given the inkling of staff-level workers to tele-commute some days of every week, are we being provided with what we require in terms of non-statutory leaves (NSLs) and flexible work arrangements (FWAs)?
In this article, we look at leave benefits for working parents and caregivers and see if they are provided such needs when they require them. For more information on the sectors and occupations which are more generous in providing such benefits, the work life harmony report and data can be found
Requirement against Provision: Is there a mismatch?
Our data shows that when employees do require NSLs, employers were generous in providing such benefits. This is an encouraging sign as close to all employees were provided at least one NSL in 2020, up slightly from 2018 (9 in 10 employees). Those with children and caregiving needs received significant support from their employers in 2020. With 77% of those who required family care or parental care leave to be provided for, this is a positive sign for those who are looking to return to the labour force, knowing that employers are supportive and understanding of their needs outside of work.
Many countries including Singapore provide parental care leaves. Norway, for instance, is one of the most generous and flexible countries internationally. Parents are entitled to a combined 12 months leave related to childbirth. While Singapore does not have a combined leave package entitlement, we have NSLs such as family and childcare leave to supplement maternity and paternity leaves. Such leaves are well-supported by employers as 8 in 10 workers who needed such leaves were provided for in 2020.
The same trend is observed for FWAs, where tele-working was predominantly provided to those who required them. Nearly all workers among the 41% who required tele-working in 2020 were provided with tele-working. Hybrid working is important to many parents as found in a survey of U.S adults conducted by the Pew Research Centre covering the 2019 to 2021 period. It revealed that time spent on secondary care during the pandemic for mothers rose, citing a heightened need for childcare. To entice parents to stay longer and return to the workforce, NSLs like childcare leaves and FWAs like tele-working and flexi-hours, are strong selling points to potential entrants and existing parents.
Working modes have been evolving, and employers are keen to support these changes to benefit workers, so that it translates into higher job satisfaction and improved quality of work. With a high provision rate of NSLs and FWAs in Singapore, employers have been adapting to the changing workplace, and attempting to make it more conducive and be more understanding towards working parents and caregivers. As employees, we should exercise care and caution while taking FWAs and NSLs to create a win-win scenario at the workplace.