In a new local law enacted by New York City's (NYC) City Council on 19 January, city employees "would require" an employer to allow employees to take two temporary schedule changes per calendar year" for situations such as "caregiver emergency, legal proceeding or hearing for subsistence benefits, or any other circumstances benefits that would constitute a basis for permissible use of safe time or sick time" under the local NYC code.
Additionally, employees who request for a temporary schedule change are required to notify their employer or direct supervisor as soon as they know that there is a need for a time off. There is no need for employees to formally write a request to their employers.
Separately, employees also have the right to request for appropriate flexible work arrangements without fear of retaliation. This has to be done in writing to the employers. The employer is then required to provide a written response to the employee stating whether they accept or deny the request within 14 days upon receiving the request.
Is this likely to happen in Singapore?
Within Singapore, there is currently no existing law which mandates that employees are required to submit a written request to their employers to ask for a temporary change in their working arrangements.
However, in addition to granting employees the required annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave and so on, companies in Singapore are becoming increasingly open to the concept of flexible work arrangements within the workplace as well. According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) 2016 Employment Survey, the number of firms that provide ad-hoc flexi-work arrangements such as unplanned time off or ad-hoc tele-working, rose from 70% in 2015 to 77% in 2016.
Then there are large tech companies the likes of Netflix Asia that offers unlimited annual leave to employees.
Perhaps for Singapore, there is no pressing need to implement such policies that permits employees to officially request for leave for "emergency situations". Given the companies in Singapore today are more open to flexi-work arrangements, in order for it to truly work within the workplace, there should be mutual understanding and trust between both employers and employees.
Additionally, employers should communicate clearly to employees these flexi-work arrangements to avoid any misunderstanding between employees and their line managers or supervisors.
This article was first published on Gpayroll, on 26 March 2019. Information is correct at the time of publication.