SINGAPORE: The PAP Women’s Wing wants laws to enable flexible work arrangements to drive the shift towards a pro—family work culture in Singapore.
It submitted a host of women—friendly work recommendations to the Ministry of Manpower on Wednesday.
The Manpower Ministry’s 2012 statistics show that for every three Singaporeans who are not working, two are women.
The PAP Women’s Wing estimates 438,200 women below age 60 are economically inactive, and almost 15 per cent of them are university graduates. It says it makes business sense to get these women back to work, in Singapore’s tight labour market.
Ms Foo Mee Har, Treasurer of PAP Women’s Wing Executive Committee and MP for West Coast GRC, said: "If you want to have changes, incentives, people have more time to think about it because they need workers. This is a really opportune time, we really have to seize upon this moment to put in structural changes to the way we look at pro—family employment practices so that it can take a real quantum change in the way it’s been happening."
In a 14—page document, the PAP Women’s Wing urges the government to lead the charge.
One recommendation is to enshrine flexible work in Singapore’s employment laws... to give employees with children (under 12) the legal right to request for flexi—work, and no pay leave for up to a year for child care.
To champion and implement the necessary HR policy changes, the PAP Women’s Wing is also calling on the government to set up a dedicated, one—stop centre for pro—family employment practices. Working under the Manpower Ministry, it could provide skills training and hear complaint cases.
It also said there should be more protection for women who are freelance and contract workers too, in the form of CPF payments, medical benefits and injury compensation on the job.
To share the parenting load, the position paper also recommends that shared parental leave be extended to two months, up from the current one week.
The call is not for immediate legislation to give companies time to adjust.
Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef, Member of PAP Women’s Wing Executive Committee and MP for Marine Parade GRC, said she hopes flexi—work legislation can be realised in two to three years’ time.
"Legislation becomes necessary when we find that through guidelines, encouragement, certain things are not going the way we want. So certain things, when you legislate you will get better results," she said.
Ms Foo said: "We know that if we leave it to the best efforts of individual companies, it won’t happen. Therefore, we believe the government has to take very determined, comprehensive intervention, regulations and provisions, and come up with an incentive scheme to help employers get there."
The PAP Women’s Wing also suggests that the government sets up a Back to Work Employment Credit Scheme, similar to that for older workers, to offset employers’ costs for hiring and training women.
The Singapore National Employers Federation said it supports the Back to Work Employment Credit Scheme.
However it has reservations on legislating flexi—work, saying not every job can be done on flexi—hours.
The Manpower Ministry said it will consider the recommendations in its policy review.
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