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Employers to get more flexi-work help: Josephine Teo

Enhanced Work-Life Grant gives them up to S$2,000 for each person on flexi-work, for up to 35 employees

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The government will set aside S$30 million over the next two years for the updated WorkPro Work-Life Grant, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Josephine Teo said on Sunday.

Singapore

JOB sharing and other forms of flexible work are set to get a boost here, under an enhanced programme to support family-friendly workplaces.

The government will set aside S$30 million over the next two years for the updated WorkPro Work-Life Grant, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Josephine Teo said on Sunday.

The scheme, rolled out in 2013, was due to expire this month. But Mrs Teo, who is also Second Minister for Manpower and Home Affairs, told Parliament last week that it will be extended.

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At an International Women's Day event on Sunday, Mrs Teo noted that it is "important that more companies provide flexible work arrangements", which she said "can be particularly helpful in keeping more women employed in a globalised environment".

Flexible work arrangements include telecommuting, staggered hours, switching to part-time work and sharing jobs among workers.

"Occasionally, there are calls for the government to legislate long-term childcare leave such as those commonly seen in European countries, so that we can boost total fertility rate," Mrs Teo said in Mandarin to an audience from the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"However, most women in Singapore would actually prefer to remain in the workforce or to rejoin the workforce at the earliest opportunity."

Under the enhanced Work-Life Grant, employers can get up to S$2,000 for each worker on a flexible work arrangement, for as many as 35 workers. The present scheme pays out S$10,000 for the first five workers and S$1,500 for each employee thereafter.

There will also be a higher incentive of up to S$3,500 an employee for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) engaging in job sharing, while the claims cap of S$2,000 will still apply to their rank-and-file counterparts.

This move comes as "we recognise that it is harder for employers to make arrangements for PMET jobs to be shared", said Mrs Teo.

She added that the higher grant quantum for each employee "will provide more upfront support to help employers take the first step to encourage their employees" to take up flexible work arrangements.

The government will also simplify the eligibility criteria for the grant. Just one worker needs to be working flexibly for the employer to qualify - down from the current requirement of one-fifth of the company's workers. "This was in response to feedback from companies on the difficulties they face in meeting this criteria," Mrs Teo noted.

Companies must have adopted the tripartite standard on flexible work arrangements to make claims under the scheme. The standard has been taken up by more than 330 employers since its launch last year, she said.

The changes will kick in on July 1.

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