Want a four-day workweek? Head to Singapore.

Everyone wants flexibility at work. Few are lucky enough to receive it. But the chances may be best in Singapore, where, by the end of this year, the right to make your case to your boss will be the law of the land. 

In order to “maintain a harmonious workplace culture, based on trust and reciprocity,” employees will be entitled to ask their bosses for a wide array of perks including four-day workweeks, guaranteed remote-work days, and asynchronous schedules starting December 1 of this year, per a new statement published by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, a government branch that oversees the national workforce. 

Flexible work is a critical asset for all workers, but stands to benefit workers from marginalized and historically underrepresented communities the most. As such, “access to flexible work arrangements (FWAs) is often the main consideration for caregivers, women workers and senior workers when it comes to deciding to stay or return to the workforce,” the statement quotes Yeo Wan Ling, co-chair of the Tripartite Workgroup, as saying. “At the heart of successful FWA implementations is the building of a trust culture in the workplace.”

Singapore’s government, in mandating companies take flexible-work requests seriously, joins other forward-thinking countries like the United Kingdom and Ireland—both of which have encoded similar requirements in recent weeks—as well as Finland, Portugal and Belgium.

More than one in five Singaporean workers, per a recent ADP survey, say their employers already offer four-day workweeks in a bid to promote better mental health and work-life balance. That’s the highest percentage in the APAC region, beating out India, China, and Australia. Almost 7 in 10 Singaporean workers told ADP they have some amount of flexibility over their working arrangements—also well above the average. 

The new guidelines, while not technically mandatory under Singaporean law, nonetheless require all companies operating in the country to develop and maintain a formal process for employees to request flexible arrangements. 

But it’s not a silver bullet. Bosses can still legally reject a worker’s request for, say, an additional day off per week, if they believe it would hamper the worker’s ability to do the job—which of course would mean shouldering higher costs. What bosses are not allowed to do is turn down the request simply because it doesn’t align with their vision, their historical operating style, or their CEO’s opinion on the matter.

“Flexibility is not a perk, but a foundational expectation,” Yvonne Teo, vice president of HR for ADP’s APAC region, wrote in the report. “Singapore employees value flexibility as the third most important factor to them in a job, after salary and job security. Employers today must offer flexible work arrangements to attract and retain talent.”

The push came from Singapore’s Tripartite Workgroup—comprised of representatives from the government, trade unions, rank and file workers, business leaders and HR professionals—which convened in September with the express purpose of building out the country’s flexible-work guidance. It emerged with 10 recommendations, and the country is enacting each of them, it said Tuesday. 

Flexible-work arrangements support “work-life harmony,” Gan Siow Huang, Minister of State for Manpower and co-chair of the Tripartite Workgroup, said—and when implemented correctly, they give employers a competitive advantage in talent attraction and retention and make workplaces more inclusive. In other words, everyone wins. 

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