Seychelles’ cabinet of ministers has approved a proposal to implement flexible working arrangements across government based on the concept of results-based management.
Ministries, departments and agencies will make proposals on how they will implement new arrangements while ensuring continued efficiency and high standards in public service delivery. The cabinet endorsed the proposal which is a first for the island nation in one of its virtual sittings recently.
The Minister for Youth, Sports and Family, who presented the proposal, told SNA on Friday that the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has placed flexible work arrangements, especially telework, in the spotlight. With the public health authority issuing stay-at-home orders and allowing only essential businesses to keep their physical locations open, unprepared employers were forced to implement flexible work options on the table.
“What the paper is saying is that government endorses and supports flexible working arrangements which will allow this to start taking place in the public sector, and later we expect that the private sector will also follow this. There is some work however that needs to be done with the employment department so that this can be better be integrated into the structure,” explained the minister.
Government offices, which are implementing flexible hours and work-from-home, are expected to continue the practice but according to the minister, it is up to these workplaces to decide which arrangement best suits their work.
Zialor added that “the concept of flexible working arrangements is not popular among organizations in Seychelles, and it received quite a bit of resistance from employers when suggested by The Guy Morel Institute more than eight years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an opportunity to show organisations that flexible working arrangements can be done in a productive manner.”
The minister said that what the government is adopting does not have to do with where or how long a person works but has to do with the model of result-based management.
“How you work will depend on your productivity and as per agreement with the employer,” said the minister, adding that some amendments will also have to be done to the Employment Act.
Government offices, which are implementing flexible hours and work-from-home, are expected to continue the practice. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
The move by the government to adopt flexible working hours was announced during the presentation of the 2021 budget to the National Assembly last February by the Minister for Finance, Economic Planning and Trade, Naadir Hassan. Though Hassan agreed that this move will lead to a better work-life balance, he said the government recognizes that this move is not without challenges.
“Especially with regards to the internet, equipment that is needed to work at home, and also individual performance. Policies will be developed to address these challenges and ensure that there is a framework in place to evaluate employee performance in the new normal,” said Hassan.
Lydia Bastienne, who works in a family tourism business, told SNA that flexible working hours will work depending on the nature of the work. “For us the beach is where we work and we have to be there for clients who work in anytime, but for government and office workers, I think work from home and flexible hours can work well.”
Sylvine Commettant of Sweet Home Childminding Service said that flexible hours have both advantages and disadvantages for the service she offers to work parents.
“For instance, parents will still bring their kids as I have noticed now that even parents are working from home, they still send them to be looked after. So, I still work from 7 am to 5 pm, and I will still have the same routine,” explained the childminder.
Commettant added that as a parent herself flexi hours will not be to her advantage, unless working parents decide to keep their children at home with them.
Minister Zialor said that the new proposal will only bring benefits to the country and that according to her research flexible hours led to improved productivity.
Zialor concluded that with this approach people will have more time to spend with their families, find additional things to do and bring extra income to their homes, give back to the community by volunteering, develop other interests such as in art, culture and sports which in the end will lead to an improved quality of life and a better Seychelles.