In a recent parliamentary inquiry of Ang Hin Kee, Member of Parliament (MP), to Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower (MOM), regarding the female labour force participation rate (LFPR), the latter cited the country’s female LFPR aged 15 and above has shown a steady growth for the past 10 years.
Teo cited from 56% in 2008, it had increased to 60% in 2018. Since 2015, it has maintained its fixed percentage growth rate at 60%.
The agency shared that around 6% of female workers are self-employed. The Ministry noted these working moms are those who have chosen to work on their own or run their own business without any paid staff.
Many of these working women consisted of around 70% who are self-employed with regular jobs. They selected this type of work and preferred working using this set-up.
For the past decade, Teo boasted that among the OECD countries, Singapore had jumped from 17th place to the 9th position for the female LFPR, which was a milestone for the country.
Despite the good news, Teo stressed that one of the key issues that most workers, both men and women, in the labor force encounter are the lack of experience, qualifications, and skills.
Compared to male workers, a growing number of working women also complain about the absence of flexible work arrangements (FWAs) for them as one challenge in the industry.
Also, similar to their male counterparts, self-employed female workers are prone to payment disputes and potential income loss brought by prolonged illnesses or injuries.
Teo listed all government initiatives that bring assistance to many women workers to take part and be encouraged to stay in the labor force. First, there is the Adapt & Grow initiative that is designed for job matching, training subsidies, and salary assistance.
Second, the government has created WSG’s Careers Connect or NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i)’s career centres.
Third, MyCareersFuture is a portal that can be used when searching for suitable jobs for their skills.
Fourth, there is the rollout of the Tripartite Standard on flexible work arrangements (FWAs) that encourages more employers to provide FWAs to their staff.
Fifth, funding support is made available to the employers, through the Work-Life Grant, amounting to $105,000 per firm.
Sixth, there are voluntary mediation services offered by the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM).
In the second inquiry, MP Gan Thiam Poh queried Teo about the capacity of the government to incentivise employers to engage their staff to actively take part in the company’s initiatives that have long-term advantages.
The Manpower minister responded to the Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC) coordinates with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) in the adoption of the Total Workplace Safety and Health approach.
Teo noted both the WSHC and HPB have incentives in place for the employers such as health screenings, staff assistance to manage health issues, provide ergonomic strategies for carrying loads, and launching workplace exercise activities.