The Women’s Wing of Singapore’s ruling political party, People’s Action Party (PAP) has this week submitted its Paper on “Women at Work” to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
The Paper outlined the opportunities as well as challenges in engaging more women to enter or re-enter the workforce. In the same swoop, it has also called for the government to step in and in 2 -3 years, enforce measures to ensure that workplaces are more pro-family and women-friendly.
Singapore company formation specialist Rikvin recognizes that the Women at Work Paper comes close on the heels of its Marriage & Parenthood Paper. Said paper has outlined some incentives to encourage young couples to set up nest and married couples to have more children. The Women at Work Paper also focuses on engaging more women to re-enter and stay in the workforce.
According to the PAP Women’s Wing, the women labour force participation rate in Singapore stands at 57.7%, significantly lower than that of men (76%). In other words, two in every three Singaporeans who are not working are women. This then adds up to approximately 438,200 women under 60 years old who are economically inactive. 15% of this group are university graduates, and could otherwise complement Singapore’s resident workforce, given its tight labour market.
Commenting on these figures, Ms. Christine Lim, General Manager of Rikvin said, “We need to understand why approximately 15% of Singaporean women graduates are unable to or have not re-entered the workforce. Their skills would be valuable and welcome, amid our tight labour market.”
If we want to make the workplace more family and women friendly, we need to include single working women in our discourse. We also need to reflect on the environment we collectively create, how we value personal success and what works for us a society.”
The Paper has put forth seven recommendations. Most saliently, it has called for legislation to allow workers with children aged under 12 years to request for flexible-work arrangements. In addition, it wants the legal enforcement of a provision for parents to take no-pay leave for up to one year to take care of children, and have their positions guaranteed when they return to work.
To help enforce these policies, the paper proposed the establishment of a One Stop Centre. This centre would also provide retraining and job matching services to prepare women to return to the workforce. It has also called for better protection for freelance and contract workers and that they enjoy basic employment rights under the Employment Act, such as CPF contributions, medical benefits and injury compensation.
Akin to the Special Employment Credit scheme for older workers, the paper has recommended a Back to Work Employment Credit Scheme to incentivize Singapore incorporated firms to hire women who wish to re-enter the workforce. After-school care programmes within schools were also highlighted, to help working parents have better access to childcare services.
“These proposals are commendable. However, it could also have carved a space for single women who contribute meaningfully to our society and economy. Single people too have families and dreams. Some aspire to have children one day but do not want to forgo opportunities while they still have the energy and freedom to,” explained Ms. Lim.
“To ensure that they do not burn out or skip the workforce completely after having children, we need to re-think and re-architect our foundations for a good life. It is not a coincidence that over 35% of Singaporean women in the 30 – 40 year bracket are single, and perhaps are consciously choosing to be; and that 15% of women graduates are not part of the workforce. If we want to make the workplace more family and women friendly, we need to include single working women in our discourse. We also need to reflect on the environment we collectively create, how we value personal success and what works for us a society,” affirmed Ms. Lim.