Survey reveals working caregivers need more support from employers
- POSTED: 05 Oct 2013 17:23
- UPDATED: 06 Oct 2013 00:03
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An online survey by the labour movement has found that the majority of working caregivers need more support from employers to make their caregiving role easier.
SINGAPORE: An online survey by the labour movement has found that the majority of working caregivers need more support from employers to make their caregiving role easier.
It surveyed some 3,600 caregivers and found that many struggle to manage their time caring for children, elderly parents, or family members with special needs.
The survey was conducted in August by U Family, an agency of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).
It found that on average, caregivers spend 30 hours each week caring for their dependents.
Among the working caregivers surveyed, over a quarter or 27 per cent have multiple dependents to care for, such as children, aged parents or family members with special needs.
Those surveyed were aged between 21 and 65, and about half of them were in the age group of 36 to 45.
70 per cent of them were women and 30 per cent men; while 85 per cent were married and 15 per cent single.
For Ms Daphne Chew, a credit analyst, having two young children means she uses up her annual leave quickly and sometimes has to take unpaid leave.
While her employers have been understanding, it is tough to juggle work with caring for her children.
Ms Daphne said: "When you go quite frequently, they might tell you,"huh again?" and I will feel guilty also because I'm doing more accounting, so it will really affect the whole month’s reporting somehow."
Ms Daphne said having a flexible workplace arrangement, such as allowing parents to bring kids to work when the childcare centre is closed, could help caregivers like her.
The survey by U Family found that 62 per cent of working caregivers do not receive Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA) benefits, while 77 per cent said their employers do not provide Eldercare Leave.
To take care of their dependents, the working caregivers apply for annual or sick leave, or simply readjust work schedules by arriving later to work or leaving work earlier.
Of the 217 caregivers surveyed who did not have a regular job, over 70 per cent left the workforce to care for their dependents.
Most of those who left the workforce to shoulder caregiving responsibilities said they would have reconsidered leaving their jobs, if they had been given flexible work arrangements.
They said that flexible working hours are a crucial factor in encouraging them to go back to work.
Ms Cham Hui Fong, assistant secretary-general of NTUC, said: "There's a need for us to really re-examine the kind of leave schemes that we have, to see how we can actually reconfigure them so it's more inclusive, and you do take care of your employees with young families, and employees with older families."
The labour movement is working with unions to help more unionised companies provide better flexibility in workplace arrangements and company leave structure.
It hopes that the Family Care Leave can eventually be legislated.
Ms Cham also said that the labour movement is targeting to have 50 per cent of its some 1,500 unionised companies, provide some form of flexibility in workplace or leave structure -- either in their Collective Agreements or Memorandums of Understanding -- by 2015.
She added that the survey findings show the need to address concerns of working caregivers in order to avoid more people dropping out of the workforce to care for their dependents, especially with an ageing population and a labour crunch.