A guide to the upcoming flexible work arrangements in Singapore

Flexible working arrangements in Singapore: Are you ready for the new mandatory guidelines?

The global trend in supporting flexible working arrangements remains strong in a post-COVID-19 world, as regulators and employers address challenges in the form of workforce transformation and advances in digital technology. Increasingly, employers are realising key benefits from allowing this greater flexibility; such as cost-savings due to the need for less office space and gaining access to a wider talent pool, which is important in a tight labour market. These positive impacts are seeing employers be more receptive to giving their employees flexibility in choosing where and when to work.

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower announced in April 2024 the implementation of the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement Requests (the Guidelines), which will be effective from 1 December 2024. The Guidelines set out how employees should make a formal request for flexible work arrangements (FWAs), how employers and supervisors should handle those requests, and the minimum requirements employers must abide by to remain compliant with the mandatory Guidelines. 

What is a flexible working arrangement?

FWAs are work arrangements where employers and employees both agree to a variation from the standard work arrangement. The Guidelines set out the following three broad categories of FWAs:

  • Flexi-Place – where employees work flexibly from locations outside of the office.
  • Flexi-Time – where employees work flexibly at different timings, with no changes to total work hours and workload.
  • Flexi-Load – where employees work flexibly with different workloads and with commensurate remuneration.

How to request flexible working arrangements – key steps

  • The employee submits a formal FWA request – at a minimum, the formal FWA request must state, in writing, each of the following four requirements:
    • the date of the request;
    • the FWA requested (including its expected frequency and duration);
    • the reason for the request; and
    • the requested start and end date (if relevant).

    If the employer has instituted a process for employees to make a FWA request (for example, through a HR or company portal), the employee must follow that process in order for their request to be classified as a formal FWA request.

  • The employer should properly consider the FWA based on business needs (set out below).
  • The employer should communicate its decision within a timely manner in writing; at most, within two months. Any clarifications and discussions concerning the request should also be made within the two months.
  • If the FWA request is rejected, the employer should include the reason for doing so in writing and is encouraged to engage the employee on other alternatives.

    The employer may refer to Annex B of the Guidelines for how a formal FWA request could be responded to.


The Guidelines only extend to:

  • Employees who have completed probation. However, employers can consider FWA requests from employees on probation.
  • Employees who have made a formal FWA request. Hence, if the employee does not satisfy the requirements for a FWA, it will be considered a non-formal FWA request and will not be covered by the Guidelines.

Factors for employers to consider:

When considering FWA requests, employers should consider factors pertinent to the employee’s role and the potential impact of the requested FWA on both the business and the employee’s job performance. Rejection of FWA requests should be grounded solely on reasonable business considerations, such as cost implications, productivity or output concerns, or practical feasibility, rather than personal biases against flexible working practices. Decisions that are influenced by a preference for traditional working arrangements, or a reluctance to depart from established customs, would be considered unreasonable grounds for rejecting a FWA request. 

How to prepare for the implementation of flexible working arrangements in Singapore?

  • Employers should start to devise a process for eligible employees to submit formal FWA requests and inform their workforce of the same.
  • Employers may consider implementing a formal policy for FWAs to streamline FWA requests or enquiries, detailing:
    • the types of FWAs available;
    • the guidelines for stakeholders (i.e. senior management, employees, supervisors and human resources) to consider in ensuring the successful implementation of FWAs; and
    • a code of conduct or expectation for the effective implementation of FWAs.
    • As far as reasonably practical, employers should explore ways to accommodate FWA requests, such as reviewing work processes or re-assigning work across team members, so that the company remains productive.

Are you ready for the new flexible working arrangements?

In introducing the new flexible working arrangements, the Singapore Government has purposefully chosen the route of mandatory guidelines, rather than enforcing the arrangements through legislation. Ms Gan Siow Huang, the co-chair of the tripartite workgroup, who made the recommendations to the Government and also the Minister of State for Manpower, said that a decision was made to introduce mandatory guidelines instead of legislation because of the need to be “administratively light”. She reiterates that the focus is on enabling and equipping workplaces, employers and employees, so that flexible working arrangements can be implemented in a sustainable way.

While the Guidelines are not law, and employers are permitted to reject (with reasons) FWA requests, employers who do not follow the Guidelines may be issued with a warning by the Ministry of Manpower and errant employers required to attend corrective workshops.

If you are wondering how to effectively implement the FWAs for your workplace or would like to have a chat to find out more, please contact our Singapore-based colleagues Vincent Tan and Prashaanth Rajandran, working in the offices of JurisAsia LLC with whom Gowling WLG has an exclusive association. We acknowledge, with thanks, the contributions of Ashley Tok, practice trainee to this article.

Dr. Vivian Wei Cheng recognised by IAM patent 1000 2024

The 2024 edition of Intellectual Asset Management (IAM) Patent 1000 2024 has recognised Vivian Wei Cheng as one of the world’s foremost practitioners in the area of prosecution.

Vivian is a qualified Singapore patent attorney and Chinese patent attorney, specializing in areas such as life science and biotechnology, consumer care, food and retail, chemical and healthcare. She has a wealth of experience in drafting and prosecution of patent applications in Singapore, the Southeast Asia region and other major jurisdictions, as well as patent revocation and infringement actions.

Now in its 13th year, the IAM Patent 1000 is commonly regarded as the definitive ‘go-to’ resource for those seeking to identify world-class, private practice patent expertise, as well as leading expert witnesses in the US, and includes 50 country-specific chapters analysing their local patent professional services markets.

An extensive research process is performed over five months, with a team of full-time analysts conducting 1,800 interviews with industry specialists around the world and resulting in the definitive directory exclusively dedicated to identifying the world’s leading patent service providers. Only those identified by market sources for their exceptional skillsets and profound insights into patent matters feature in the IAM Patent 1000.

Dr Cheng said: “I am delighted to have been included in IAM’s Patent 1000 for 2024. To be recognised amongst such esteemed professionals is a huge honour and testament to all the hard work I have put in to provide patent expertise to our clients. Congratulations to all the colleagues who have made the listing.”

JurisAsia LLC distinguished in the 2024 Asian Legal business IP rankings

JurisAsia LLC, the Singapore-based law firm exclusively associated with Gowling WLG, has been recognised in the 2024 Asian Legal Business IP rankings as one of the region’s leading law firms.

The annual rankings categorise the top firms for intellectual property (IP) in Asia. JurisAsia LLC achieved a Tier 2 ranking for both Patents and Copyright/Trademarks for Singapore. The results highlight the strength of the firm’s expertise and reputation for specialist IP, life sciences and technology-focused work in the growing Singapore market.

Asia is increasingly becoming a major innovation hub, and, alongside this trend, there is a marked growth in the filing of patents and trademarks. Already, Singapore is the biggest source of international patent filings in Southeast Asia.

Managing partner, Tan Choon Leng, said: “We are delighted to once again be recognised for our expertise in Patents and Copyright/Trademarks, especially in life sciences and technology. Recognition of IP rights as a core competitive advantage for any strong business is constantly growing, especially in Southeast Asia, and our lawyers work tirelessly to ensure they remain at the forefront of any developments and deliver positive results for our clients. Congratulations to everyone at the firm for playing a role and contributing to secure these rankings.”  

JurisAsia provides high-quality, innovative, and commercial advice to clients across Southeast Asia. Its internationally ranked lawyers are leading experts in their field and help clients from a wide range of business sectors to secure, exploit and extract value from their IP.

Celebrating JurisAsia LLC as one of the 10 Top Service Providers on GoBusiness IP Grow  

JurisAsia LLC, the Singapore-based law firm exclusively associated with Gowling WLG, has been listed as one of the Top 10 intangible assets and intellectual property (IA/IP) service providers who have established the highest number of connections with enterprise users via GoBusiness IP Grow, from its launch in September 2023 to March 2024.

GoBusiness IP Grow is a one-stop platform that connects enterprises with the right IA/IP solutions to grow and protect their business globally.

The initiative is developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), Government Technology Agency (GovTech), Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), and IPOS International, in support of Singapore IP Strategy 2030.

As of March 2024, GoBusiness IP Grow has successfully facilitated over 650 connections between the listed service providers and enterprise users, reinforcing the platform’s role in fostering collaboration. The top five most viewed IP services are trade mark agents, patent agents, contract drafting, freedom-to-operate, and IP marketplace, offering insights into the current IP priorities among enterprises.

The award, symbolised by a digital badge, represents JurisAsia’s commitment and contributions to the IP ecosystem.

Vivian Wei Cheng, patent attorney at JurisAsia, said:

“It is fantastic to have gained this recognition from such an eminent external partner – we look forward to utilising this platform within our future business development efforts.”