THE government has released the tripartite guidelines ahead of allowing job flexibility for work-permit holders in the services sector from next Monday.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) reminded employers to be "fair and responsible" when exercising flexibility in deploying their workers.

First announced by Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin in Parliament in March, work-permit holders in the services sector will be able to multi- task across jobs within the same business, in addition to doing the specific job listed in their permit.

This, said the ministry, will help businesses enhance productivity amid the tightened foreign manpower rules.

"Employers should use the scheme sensibly and reasonably, making sure that employees are adequately trained before performing new tasks," said Adrian Chua, MOM's divisional director of manpower planning and policy.

The company must also first seek the employee's consent before assigning him or her to new tasks.

A work-permit holder who is a waiter in a hotel, for instance, is allowed to help serve customers at the front desk or even clean rooms as part of the flexi- work scheme.

"Companies should take this opportunity to review their manpower practices and use job flexibility to improve productivity. The value of the resulting productivity improvements and savings should be shared with employees, especially with those who perform additional tasks," said Mr Chua.

According to the latest figures from the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), Singapore's services sector had a job vacancy rate of 3.1 per cent compared to 1.9 per cent in manufacturing in March.

SNEF executive director Koh Juan Kiat said the flexibility scheme would help businesses in the services sector optimise manpower.

"Employers must provide adequate training for their workers to enable them to contribute effectively when multi-tasked. Employers should also brief their workers properly on expectations and benefits," he said.

Cham Hui Fong, assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), said that employers must ensure fair opportunities for all workers to upgrade and re-skill, and fair gain-sharing when job redesign exercises lead to improved productivity.

"We hope that, in doing so, employers will remain mindful to exercise due diligence and discretion in redefining job scopes, and ensure that the welfare of their workers is looked after," said Ms Cham.