MORE employers have adopted family-friendly practices and offer employees arrangements such as part-time work or staggered working hours, to help them deal with family commitments.

A Ministry of Manpower (MOM) survey of 3,410 establishments which together employ some one million workers found that 35.4 per cent of them provide at least one form of family-friendly arrangements.

This is up from 28.1 per cent in 2008 when the survey was last conducted.

Part-time work of less than 35 hours a week was the most common practice, with 29 per cent of firms offering it.

This was followed by staggered working hours (6.5 per cent), flexi-time (6.3 per cent), tele-working (2.8 per cent), home-working (1.9 per cent) and job-sharing (0.6 per cent).

The survey report, released yesterday, also showed that one in four of the companies polled provides staff 'time off' from work to attend to personal matters.

Such flexibility in the workplace is important for fathers like Mr Kenneth Lim, who has two girls, aged one and four.

'It has allowed me time to take my children for their medical check-ups without having to apply for annual leave,' said the 33-year-old manager in a reinsurance firm, whose most recent trip to the clinic was in October.

The ministry said in its report that offering such work-life arrangements can help companies attract and retain employees, improve engagement with employees - and improve business performance.

The survey found other signs that a more family-friendly culture was emerging in companies here: an increase in the proportion of employers offering childcare sick leave, for instance.

This stood at 19 per cent of companies in the latest survey compared to just 8.3 per cent in the 2008 survey.

Companies that offered employees leave to take care of their parents also almost doubled to 10.6 per cent in the same period.

Overall, the survey found that compassionate leave remained the most common non-statutory paid-leave benefit, with 86.6 per cent of firms offering it to staff.

This was followed by marriage leave (69 per cent), paternity leave (47.9 per cent) and parental care sick leave (10.6 per cent).

Employees contacted appreciated that their companies offered arrangements at the office which were geared towards promoting a better work-life balance.

Family-friendly practices are also important draws for job-seekers like Madam Sam Yip, 31, a mother of a six-month-old boy. She returned from China two months ago, where she worked in corporate communications, and has been looking for a job here in the same line since then.

Arrangements such as staggered hours are important for her: 'It determines whether I will get to spend enough time with my family, and that is important to me.'

Labour MP Halimah Yacob said the ministry's survey showed that efforts by the Government, labour movement and employers to promote work-life balance in recent years were bearing fruit.

It also showed that more employers recognised that improved work-life arrangements benefited not only employees, but the company as well.

This is because employees who could juggle their family and work commitments well would be more motivated and productive, the NTUC deputy secretary-general added.

The ministry's Conditions of Employment Survey, conducted every two years, looks at work-week patterns, leave entitlements and sickness absenteeism. It also studies the prevalence of flexible work arrangements and other family-friendly benefits.

The survey covered private sector establishments with at least 25 employees each, and practices in the public sector. It was conducted from June 28 to Sept 9. Among its other findings: more employees enjoying over 21 days of annual leave - 10 per cent in the latest survey compared to 8.5 per cent in 2006 and 9.1 per cent in 2008.

The jump could reflect a change in the profile of the workforce, with more here now holding management and executive positions that 'typically enjoy better leave benefits', said the ministry.

The proportion of employees on shift work rose from 14 per cent in 2008 to 18 per cent this year.

According to the ministry, the spike reflected a jump in the numbers of clerical, sales and service workers, fuelled by hirings from the two integrated resorts.