29 April 2024

On 16 April 2024, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) announced that the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement Requests (“Guidelines”) will come into effect on 1 December 2024. The mandatory Guidelines set the minimum requirements that all employers are required to abide by and recommend other good practices for employers to consider in relation to formal requests for flexible work arrangements (“FWAs”). The Guidelines aim to shape the right norms and expectations around FWAs by setting out how employees should request for FWAs and use them, and how employers and supervisors should handle FWA requests.

The Guidelines replace the Tripartite Advisory on Flexible Work Arrangements issued in 2014 and the Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements launched in 2017.

Types of FWAs

FWAs refer to work arrangements where employers and employees agree to a variation from the standard work arrangement. There are three broad categories of FWAs: (1) flexi-place, where employees work flexibly from different locations aside from their usual office location, (2) flexi-time, where employees work flexibly at different timings with no changes to total work hours and workload, and (3) flexi-load, where employees work flexibly with different workloads and with commensurate remuneration.

Requirement for formal FWA request

The Guidelines state that existing formal and non-formal practices should continue if they work well for both employees and employers. However, should the employer’s existing process for requesting FWAs be absent or lacking, an employee may choose to put in a formal FWA request based on the Guidelines.

Principles for proper consideration of FWA requests

When employees request for FWAs and when employers manage FWA requests, they should do so based on the following understanding:

  • When requesting for and using FWAs, employees should do so responsibly. Employees should consider the impact on their workload and performance, as well as the impact on their team and clients, where relevant to their job role.
  • 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 clients’ needs can still be met, and the company remains productive.
  • Each FWA request should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and be viable from the business point of view. Where there are valid business grounds, employers are not expected to approve the same FWAs concurrently for all employees in the organisation.

Submitting formal FWA requests

All employees who have completed probation (duration as determined by their employer) can make a formal request for FWAs under the Guidelines.

Employers should have a process for employees to submit formal FWA requests, such as submissions via a work portal or an email to a supervisor.

If the employer does not have stipulated requirements or a process for an employee to make a formal FWA request, the employee could make a formal FWA request in writing. The request should include:

  • the date of the request;
  • the FWA requested for, including its expected frequency and duration;
  • the reason for the request; and
  • the requested start date and end date (if relevant).

If the employee’s request does not meet the above requirements, it is not a formal request and is not covered under the Guidelines.

Considering formal FWA requests

Employers and employees are encouraged to discuss FWA requests in an open and constructive manner, and come to a mutual agreement on how best to meet both organisational and employees’ needs. The Guidelines also state that it is best for employers and employees to address disagreements through the organisation’s internal grievance handling procedure as far as possible. Unionised employees can also seek advice and assistance from their unions.

Employers should consider employees’ FWA requests properly. When assessing an employee’s FWA request, employers should focus on factors related to the employee’s job, as well as how the requested FWA may affect the business or the employee’s performance of the job.

Employers have the prerogative to reject employees’ FWA requests, but this should be based on reasonable business grounds and not personal bias against FWAs. Some examples of reasonable business grounds for rejection of FWAs include the following:

  • Cost: Leads to significant increase in cost burden to the employer.
  • Detrimental to productivity or output: Leads to significant decrease in the quantity or quality of individual, team, or the organisation’s productivity or output, or negatively impacts the organisation’s ability to meet customer needs.
  • Feasibility or practicality: Not feasible or impractical due to the nature of the job role, or there is no capacity to change other employees’ work arrangements, or requires the need to hire new employees, to accommodate the FWA request.

Employers should not reject FWA requests for reasons that are not directly linked to business outcomes. Examples of unreasonable grounds for rejection include the following:

  • Management does not believe in FWAs.
  • Supervisor prefers to have direct sight of employee in office so that he/she can see if they are working, even though the employee has consistent satisfactory work performance.
  • It is the organisation’s tradition or custom to not have FWAs.

Communicating decisions on formal FWA requests

Employers who receive a formal FWA request should provide a written decision within two months from receiving the request. This means that employers should engage the employee on any clarifications and discussions on the request, as well as communicate the approval or rejection of the request, within two months. If the request is rejected, employers should include the reason for rejection in the written decision.

Employers are encouraged to discuss alternatives with the relevant employee(s) if the FWA request is rejected.


The Tripartite Workgroup on the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement Requests (“Workgroup”) was convened in September 2023 to develop a set of Guidelines for FWA requests to be considered in a practical manner, taking into account the needs of employees and businesses. On 12 April 2024, the Workgroup presented its report and on 16 April 2024, the Government announced that it would accept all of the Workgroup’s 10 recommendations.

Reference materials

The following materials are available on the MOM website www.mom.gov.sg: