Singapore Parliament Suggests 4-Day Work Week To Improve Work-Life Balance

Firms like Microsoft have shown that a four-day work week can increase productivity by up to 40%, said an MP.

Cover image via The Straits Times/The Business TImes & Desmond Foo/The Straits Times

A four-day work week was brought up by a Member of Parliament (MP) in Singapore as a way to deal with the COVID-19 situation as well as improve work-life balance in the country

According to The Straits Times, the suggestion was made during a Parliament session held on Friday, 5 June, to discuss the Fortitude Budget - the country's fourth budget to tackle the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While another MP had suggested government-funded childcare leave to improve the lives of Singaporean employees during this difficult time, Nominated MP Mohamed Irshad proposed moving away from the traditional five-day work week.

Irshad highlighted that the pandemic has already forced Singaporeans to adapt to new working practices within a very short period of time

He suggested that they should not return to their old ways of working, but instead build on the progress made during the Circuit Breaker period.

"I propose moving away from the traditional five-day work week to a four-day work week with the option of working from home on the fifth day, and even having a flexi-hours work model," said Irshad.

He said that established firms like Microsoft have shown that a four-day work week can increase productivity by up to 40%.

He added that New Zealand, a country globally praised for its successful response against the COVID-19 pandemic, is also considering a four-day work week

According to The Guardian, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern suggested a four-day work week and other flexible working arrangements to promote work-life balance and boost domestic tourism.

With international travel still banned, she encouraged employers to consider these flexibilities so that New Zealanders can travel around the country to help the battered tourism industry.

"Ultimately, that really sits between employers and employees," Ardern said.

"But as I've said there's just so much we've learnt about COVID-19 and that flexibility of people working from home, the productivity that can be driven out of that."

"Think about whether that is something that would work for your workplace because it certainly would help tourism all around the country," she asked of businesses.

A Malaysian company has permanently given employees the flexibility of working from home since the MCO began:

In 2019, Kuala Lumpur scored the lowest result out of 40 cities in a study on work-life balance:

Overworking and a stressful lifestyle ultimately lead to Taiwanese-Canadian actor Godfrey Gao's death in November last year: