SINGAPORE –  Singaporeans keen to look at the practical challenges of managing work and family commitments and suggest solutions can apply from now until the end of the month to join a new Citizens’ Panel.

About 50 people from different walks of life will be selected, including employers and employees from various occupations and sectors, said the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) in a media release on Monday (July 15).

Giving more details on the Citizens’ Panel on Work-Life Harmony, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said on Monday that it will allow different viewpoints to be exchanged, such as between employers and employees, “so that we can see challenges and concerns from the other party’s point of view, and we can also then ask what are reasonable ways forward that will help to improve workplace norms”.

“Given how much time we spend at work, having the right culture in the workplace will make a lot of difference.

“But this is also one area where government policies alone cannot change or shift, and at the end of the day, what matters is that you have a set of workplace norms that everyone supports and agrees on,” she told reporters during a visit to Grand Park City Hall hotel, where flexible work arrangements for staff are practised.

Mrs Teo, who oversees population matters and is leading the panel, said that for the initiative to be effective, it must involve people who represent a diversity of views and have a balance of different voices.

Members should also have a forward-looking orientation, and have a good mix of idealism and realism, she said.

“(There are) still practicalities at work, but we mustn’t give up so easily because we’re talking about forging a new consensus.

“So we invite Singaporeans to come on board so that we can make progress together.”

The panel will meet over four full-day Saturday sessions between Sept 28 and Nov 9 to formulate a set of recommendations, which will be presented in November. The Government will review the recommendations and respond early next year.

The panel was first announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in June.

NPTD said its two main aims are to identify underlying factors and gain deeper insights into issues that affect Singaporeans’ work-life harmony, in the context of supporting families; and to identify trade-offs and develop solutions, including those that can be taken directly by business owners, supervisors and workers, to create conditions for work-life harmony here.

All Singaporeans aged 21 and above can apply to be on the panel. The people selected will include freelancers and part-time workers, people with different marital status, parents and those with other caregiving responsibilities.

People interested to join can apply at this site or call 6516-5603 from today until July 31. Selected participants will be informed by early September.

Panel members will have to commit to all four Saturday sessions, which are from 9.30am to 5pm.

Besides having small group discussions, they will also be able to call on subject-matter experts such as human resource professionals and organisations that work with families to inform their recommendations.

The NPTD said the panel is based on the Citizens’ Jury process invented by American political scientist Ned Crosby in 1971, and the concept has been used to discuss issues ranging from the economy and federal debt in the United States, the sharing of health records in Britain, and compulsory third-party insurance in Australia.

Questions about the panel can be sent to SG_Play_A_Part@pmo.gov.sg