Singapore HR in The News | August 2021

Katie Ash

Aug 10, 2021
Singapore has announced the easing of many restrictions starting today, August 10 2021, with further allowances due 19th August. This will include the allowance of 50% of a workforce to be able to return to the workplace, removing the default 'work from home' requirement. Here is a round-up of the top HR new stories, updates and insights from the past month in Singapore:

🔸 Singapore to allow 50% of staff to return to workplaces from August 19

Up to half of employees will be permitted to return to their workplaces starting August 19 as the country prepares to relax its pandemic restrictions. The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the easing of the restrictions will only take effect if the pandemic situation continues to be manageable.

“On August 10, we will start a preparatory stage. This is when we will make important adjustments to healthcare protocols, rules on social activities and travel to prepare ourselves for a COVID-19-resilient nation. By August 19, we will make further adjustments if the pandemic situation remains stable,” said health minister Ong Ye Kung.


🔸 How did COVID impact Singapore's recruitment market?

At the peak of the pandemic in 2020, retrenchments, hiring freezes, and budget cuts were the norm for talent management teams. What’s more, Singapore saw a drastic dip in employment after the Circuit Breaker period started in April. The ManpowerGroup recorded a -28% in employment from July to September.

The figure currently stands at an optimistic 15% for the first quarter of 2021, suggesting that organisations have resumed plans to expand their headcount or at least replace roles left vacant since the crisis.

HRD spoke with representatives from three of the award-winning firms to get their insights into the current employment landscape.


🔸 Entry approvals for fully vaccinated work pass holders to resume

More foreign workers can enter Singapore in the coming days as long as they are fully vaccinated.

The government will resume processing entry approvals for fully vaccinated work pass holders and their dependents starting 10 August. “We had throttled down these approvals, over the period of Heightened Alert. But now that we have reached a higher level of vaccine coverage, we will start to adjust our border measures, and we will resume entry approvals for such fully vaccinated work pass holders and their dependents, subject to prevailing SHN requirements,” Minister of Finance Lawrence Wong said in a press briefing 6 August.


🔸 Workers appreciate mental health days off after a crazy pandemic year

Does your organisation have the necessary support in place if you are feeling burnt out or need time out from work? Because most adults spend the bulk of their time working, the workplace is naturally one environment facing fresh challenges in a new normal. In a 2020 survey by EngageRocket, one in six workers said they felt stressed. So what can employers do when they find themselves with requests from employees for time out?


🔸 Only 9% of Singaporeans feel recognised at work

According to a recent survey, managers tend to overstate the satisfaction of their employees. A mere 9% of Singaporean employees feel recognised, whilst only 12% strongly agree that they feel engaged in their overall work experience. This is according to the inaugural Asia Pacific "Engagement and Recognition @ Work" Report by Achievers.


🔸 Drawing the line between work-from-home and life-at-home

The work from home setup may be taking a toll on the mental health of workers in Singapore. It’s something HR leaders should keep a close eye on as the pandemic continues.

The pandemic has blurred the line between where work stops and where personal life begins, and this is having an impact on the overall mental health of the workforce. The hybrid workplace has allowed offices to continue operations despite mobility restrictions, but it also paved the way for back-to-back meetings. In Singapore, mental health issues resulting from the work-from-home setup, have become rampant.


🔸 Is HR obligated to offer healthcare benefits?

In a recent parliamentary discussion, Singapore’s manpower minister was asked whether employers would get additional support to offer healthcare insurance. Providing employees with health insurance is optional for employers, however there are certain medical benefits that are legal entitlements.

As a rule, all employees covered under the Employment Act are entitled to basic medical benefit such as paid outpatient sick leave and the accompanying medical fees.


🔸 Why HR needs to target high-earners to truly improve diversity and inclusion

Driving ambitious diversity and inclusion is at the heart of the job for HR leaders. Many know the nation still has a long way to go to making workplaces truly inclusive to all employees, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

But new research has found that if HR really wants to shift the dial on diversity within their organisations, they need to target those earning over $100k. The survey of over 1,696 people commissioned by employment services provider atWork Australia found low-income workers were most likely to refuse a job at a company which did not welcome diversity within its ranks, with 45% reporting they’d turn down the position.


🔸Number of HR practitioners in Singapore has grown by 73% since 2010; 90% are locals

The number of HR practitioners in Singapore has grown from about 23,000 in 2010 to over 40,000 in 2020, an increase of 73% in the past decade.


🔸 Will Gen Z workers break the 9-to-6 workday?

Generation Z employees are entering the workforce amidst a disruption to our work model on a scale never seen before. It is natural that expectations of work for this generation, sometimes referred to as “zoomers,” have pivoted compared to previous generations.

One way Gen Z workers are paving the way towards changing expectations of work in Singapore is that they are less likely to choose full-time work amidst a rise in employer scrutiny according to the study by the ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View.


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