SINGAPORE: The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) on Friday (Feb 15) called for more to be done so that caregivers - in particular mature female caregivers - can join the workforce.
A Ministry of Manpower survey last year found that a fifth of the 168,300 unemployed women aged 40 to 59 claimed that caregiving was their main reason for not working, making up 33,200 women who could otherwise be in the workforce.
Noting that this makes up the equivalent of "a full year's birth cohort of manpower", NTUC said it was crucial for all Singaporeans to have the chance and choice to earn a steady source of income, both to meet current expenses but also in anticipation of retirement.
Two things must happen for such caregivers to be able to keep or return to work, said NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Heng Chee How.
Firstly, there must be enough good quality, affordable eldercare services in the community for caregivers to entrust their charges to, so that they do not need to quit work entirely in the first place, or so they can take on part-time work, said NTUC.
"NTUC calls for a tripartite effort to examine this to open the way," it said in a news release.
Secondly, it called for a "systematic reform" of manpower models used by companies to include non-full time flexible work options.
"The main work organisation and manpower model used by employers in Singapore is the full-time model," said NTUC.
However it pointed out that "despite years of calls to employers to render work arrangements more flexible" and the provision of Government incentives to do so, uptake has been slow.
"It is critical for a systematic reform of the manning models used by companies in Singapore to more smartly integrate full-time and non-full-time flexible work options," said NTUC.
"NTUC calls for a tripartite effort to fundamentally review how this can be done, taking into account the success of such efforts in other thriving advance economies and local best practices."