Some people believe that the COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated certain employment trends. For example, work-from-home or remote working was already happening in some companies before the pandemic. Now, working from home is the norm for many companies rather than the exception.
Yet, there are other employment trends that we are seeing which, for better or worse, have appeared because of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, companies that focus only on hiring workers based in Singapore can now explore making offshore hires. That’s because if a company is already working from home, then the disadvantage of an offshore hire is largely mitigated since nobody is working in the office in the first place.
This brings us to another interesting question. How would employment relationships change during an era where remote working is increasingly becoming the norm?
Contract For Service Or Contract Of Service?
Elon Musk once said that there is no such thing as a business. Rather, he says a company is a bunch of people coming together to create a product or service. However, what if the people who are coming together to create an excellent product or service for a business isn’t even a direct employee of the company?
For example, many companies work with freelancers and third-party service providers to support their business. A startup may work with a small accounting firm to ensure its book-keeping is done correctly and may work with a production house to do all its videos. Many firms outsource some parts of their technology work. Work that is sourced out doesn’t always need to be a company but could also be to an individual as well.
This is why it’s important to understand the differences in employment relationships between a worker who is on a Contract of Service, and a worker who is on a Contact For Service. A worker who is on a Contract for Service does not get statutory benefits such as annual leaves, maternity/paternity leaves, public holidays, and medical leaves.
Remote Working & The Dilemma With Part-Time Employment
Part-time employment used to be simple to understand. Rather than come to the office daily from Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm each day, a part-time employee may come in only 2-3 times each week, or may work only in the morning or in the afternoon.
Like full-time employees, part-time employees are also entitled to statutory benefits such as annual leaves and time off if a public holiday falls on a non-working day. For example, if you are a part-timer who only works on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and a public holiday fall on Thursday (a non-working day for you), you will be entitled to time off, or additional salary in lieu of the public holiday. This will be pro-rated based on how many hours you work in a week.
If this sounds confusing enough, imagine what happens if a part-time employee, who is 100% working-from-home, gets some time off for a public holiday that falls on a non-working day.
If everyone is working in the office, this is simple enough. The part-time worker gets to come in late or goes off early for that day. But in a WFH-era, would getting some time off for that day be a concept that makes sense and is realistically applicable?
Or for companies that are 100% working from home, would it just be easier for all parties if part-time employees are simply considered freelancers on Contract for Service moving forward?