CLAIRE Chua, 32, can look after her ageing parents and grandparents who live with her without taking time off from her job as the principal of Cherie Hearts group's Harbour- Front child care centre.
She does not have to apply for leave, for example, to take them for their medical appointments because she can come at anytime and work for nine hours in one day after the visits to the doctors.
"My working hours are flexible and I can cater to the needs of my parents in their 60s and older grandparents, who are in their 80s," says Miss Chua, who is single.
She also appreciates the invitations to family members of the centre's staff to attend social functions organised by the family-friendly Cherie Hearts group.
"Sometimes, my father, mother, grandmother and grandfather join us at the functions," Miss Chua says.
"We know each other's families pretty well and when we face problems, we can discuss them together. There is good understanding when some assistance is required."
The employees are also close to the parents, who leave their children in the centre while they are at work during the day.
"We treat the parents as friends and partners.
The bonding among the employees is also extended to the parents," Miss Chua says.
Flexible working hours is just one of the perks for the 300 employees of the group, which currently runs 25 child care centres.
Mr Yap believes in work-life balance.
Some 90 per cent of its staff are women,who work as teachers, principals and supervisors.
Between 70 and 75 per cent of the women are working mothers who rely on child care services to look after their young children when they are at work.
The group's employees do not have to pay a single cent to put their children in any of its centres.
They can work with peace of mind and they also save at least $700 in child care fees every month.
The employees can serve as part-time teachers, work from home and share their workload with colleagues.
Healthy life-style programmes include free annual health screening for them, their families and their parents.
There are family outings and healthy lifestyle activities and a comprehensive plan to develop the careers of the employees.
"We value our staff as our greatest asset and we want to provide the best for them," says Cherie Hearts group founder and chairman, Mr Sam Yap.
"We want them to be happier and make Cherie Hearts their second home. We want them to provide services from the heart and do their jobs with passion."
The group, Mr Yap notes, is reaping the rewards of its efforts. It is a recipient of the pro-family business mark and is also a winner of the 2006 Work-Life Excellence award.
The award by the Tripartite Committee on Work-Life Strategy is given to outstanding employers who help employees to harmonise work and personal commitments.
The Cherie Hearts group has a low staff turnover of less than 1 per cent. The staff absenteeism rate among those on medical leave is 1.1 per cent.
Some 94 per cent of the parents who give regular feedback say they are satisfied with services provided by the group's employees.
By July this year, the number of its child care centres in Singapore will go up from 25 to 30. It will also have its first overseas centres in Vietnam and in Perth, Australia.
2006 Work-Life Excellence award winners
TAN TOCK SENG HOSPITAL
It is the first employer here to help the staff have healthy conception of a baby.
Baby Wise is part of a series of the hospital's family life programmes. It comprises eight small group sessions on different topics.
These include female sexual anatomy and physiology; biology of conception; communications techniques for couples; eating healthily; identifying and charting the fertility window and how to spice up sexual life.
CHANGI GENERAL HOSPITAL
It has a well-equipped lactation room in the staff lounge for working mothers to breast feed their babies.
The mothers like the facility which has a soothing environment and plenty of reading materials.
DSO NATIONAL LABORATORIES
All the employees, regardless of whet her they are single or married, can take up to two days off every year to take care of or spend more time with parents, parents-in-law or children.
This is on top of the existing benefits such as annual leave. DSO's policy is that work should take up 80 per cent of the employees' working time.
This leaves ample time for them to go for training, take part in events that promote work-life harmony and go on leave.