TL;DR – Facilitating women in their transition back to work will encourage more women to return to the workforce. Support in training, mentorship and job searching will empower women for a smooth transition into their new roles.
At the Budget debate (23 February), Labour member of Parliament (LMP) Yeo Wan Ling said, “The Labour Movement’s own advocacy of enhancing support for workers with caregiving responsibilities, of which women constitute a large portion of those who manage the double shift in the workplace and at home.”
The Ministry of Manpower noted that 260,000 women of employment age currently remain outside the labour force. This pool of women has the potential to power our economy and industries but they need more support and confidence to return to the workforce.
In MOM’s annual Labour Force Statistics, it was found that the two most cited reasons why women are not in the workforce were one, home caregiving duties and two, housework.
Ms Yeo underscored the urgency of enhancing inclusivity and reimagining the way we work by adopting more family-friendly Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA).
1. Flexibility in FWAs
Giving workers the autonomy to calibrate their schedules so they can better meet their personal responsibilities, such as those tasked with taking care of young children and their loved elderly family members.
2. Compressed workweek
Allowing workers the option of reallocating the same number of work hours to fewer days, giving them longer blocks of personal time.
3. Implement telecommuting arrangements
To enable employees to carry out their work remotely. This option facilitates work-life balance and can accommodate workers with diverse and varied responsibilities and needs.
4. Fair assessment of employees on FWA
A worker who works on FWAs must never be unfairly compared to a worker who works full-time in the office. Every worker should have a fair chance at career advancement.
5. Protection from workplace discrimination and harassment
Employers need to be engaged and educated on strategies to manage such cases while creating safe, independent avenues for workers to seek recourse without fear of backlash.
Design and adopt Returnship Programmes
Ms Yeo added, “It is worth noting that facilitating their transition back to work is equally as important. The NTUC Women and Family Unit has over the past 24 months, introduced a Women Supporting Women Mentorship Programme, and this has been introduced in over 10 locations all over the island.
The programme provides support to women returning to the workplace and addresses the issues women face when they are transitioning back to the workforce.
Ms Yeo also shared that the larger NTUC family of social enterprises and NTUC’s partners in the Labour Movement have put into place the following:
- Mentorship network of community leaders and Unionists to support women who report challenges in adjusting to the culture and pace of the workplace.
- NTUC Learning Hub carries a suite of training programs for women to uplift their outdated skillsets.
- NTUC’s e2i and trade association partners formed a network of connections to career opportunities and job vacancies.
Comparing 2021 to 2022, the number of women returners joining the tailoring programme doubled. With this, Ms Yeo calls for the Government to continue their support for Women Returner Programmes, in particular for the popular trades and crafts persons programmes. and for employers to join hands with NTUC in designing and adopting positive returnship programmes.