Employers encouraged to utilise flexible work arrangements amid pandemic

Collette Roberts-Risden

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Collette Roberts-Risden, is encouraging employers to utilise the Employment (Flexible Work Arrangements) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act as the country continues to observe social distancing protocols to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“The flexi-work arrangement speaks to persons working 40 hours and their 40-hour workweek being flexible. Most employers are used to their workers putting in 40 hours, nine to five, Mondays to Fridays. What we are saying is during this period, look at how work can be staggered with the flexi-work arrangement, recognising the need for social distancing,” Roberts-Risden told JIS News.

The flexi-work arrangement is intended to increase employment opportunities, enhance productivity and afford workers the opportunity to better structure their lives through a flexible employee-employer work agreement. The Senate on October 31, 2014, passed the Employment (Flexible Work Arrangements) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, paving the way for the introduction of flexible working time.

Under the legislation, there are no set eight or 10-hour workdays, but instead, these are to be capped at a maximum of 12 hours. The workweek should consist of 40 hours and all seven days of the week should be considered as possible normal working days.

Since March 18, all non-essential employees across government and the private sector have been required to work from home as part of several government-mandated restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19.