Flexible work schemes in the Civil Service
Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on flexible work schemes in the Civil Service
Parliamentary Sitting: 10 January 2011
Mdm Halimah Yacob: To ask the Prime Minister (a) whether he will provide an update on the flexible work schemes available in the Civil Service; and (b) how these have benefitted employees to cope better with their work-life balance.
Written Reply (for the Prime Minister) by Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Civil Service and Minister for Defence:
Today’s multi-generational workforce has varying and unique work-life needs. In cognizance of this, the Civil Service has a broad range of policies and programmes to support a culture of flexibility in working arrangements. These include the flexi-time policy, which allows officers to vary the start and end times of their work hours, contingent on the completion of 42 hours of work a week. Most of our agencies have also introduced telecommuting, leveraging on technology to enable our officers to work off-site.
We also have a part-time employment scheme where officers can opt for an 11 to 36 hour work-week with pro-rated salaries and benefits. The number of part-time officers has substantially increased over the years, from 388 in 2007 to 813 in 2010.
Building a culture of flexibility takes time, as it involves cultivating mindsets that openly embrace flexible work practices. Over the past few years, there have been gradual but positive improvements in this area. The findings from our biennial survey show that officers are becoming more aware of the various work-life practices and policies in their organisations. Between 2005 and 2009, there was a 7% point increase (46% to 53%) in the proportion of civil servants who felt that their agencies were successful in helping officers achieve work-life harmony. Over the same period, there was also an 11% point jump in the proportion of civil servants (53% to 64%) who felt they were better able to balance their work and family commitments. More also reported that they were able to find time for family, friends, and things they enjoy doing. They were also coping well with their workload and found their stress levels manageable.
The survey also revealed that supervisors were becoming more supportive of flexible working arrangements. Almost 2 in 3 officers indicated that their supervisors would support them if they requested for flexi-time.
While these are positive developments, we will continue to communicate the message of flexibility through the agencies’ Work Life Ambassadors. In particular, we are now focusing our efforts on our middle managers as they have direct influence over the way they manage their staff. Through our communication and education efforts, we hope to see a more enabling and flexible work culture within the Service that supports both the organisation and the individual.