As we gradually ease back to working in physical offices, hybrid working or tele-working seems 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 provided what we required 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 provision of such benefits, the work life harmony report and data could 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 also received much support from their employers in 2020. With 77% of those who required family care or parental care leave provided for, this is a positive sign for those who are looking to head back into 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 internationally. Parents are entitled to a combined 12 months’ leave related to the birth of a child. 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 as a mode of 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 as well as existing parents.
Working modes have been evolving, and employers are keen to support ways of working which will benefit workers, so that it translates into higher job satisfaction and qualities of work produced. 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 understanding towards working parents and caregivers. As employees, we should also exercise care and caution while taking FWAs and NSLs so that it creates a win-win scenario at the workplace.