SINGAPORE: The family development unit of National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) – NTUC U Family – on Friday (Mar 13) called for flexible work arrangements to be extended to expectant women workers.
This call was made in light of the results of its The Happiness Poll 2014, which found that 9 in 10 pregnant women intended to return to work after maternity leave. The poll was conducted last December with 4,700 respondents – 189 of whom were pregnant.
With the findings in mind, NTUC said there should be more flexible work arrangements (FWA) to help working mothers better manage their time at work and provide time-off for prenatal checks whenever necessary.
“Generally, an expectant woman makes between 10 and 15 antenatal visits of one to two hours each during her entire pregnancy. There are often instances when she may have to go for a check-up during working hours, thus, NTUC U Family hopes that employers can consider supporting these expectant employees by offering time-off so that they can go for prenatal checks,” said Ms Toh Hwee Tin, Director of NTUC U Family.
NTUC U Family also noticed that not all employers exercise the same level of flexibility at work for expectant workers.
Among 987 respondents consisting of women who are currently pregnant or who were pregnant in the last two years, only three in 10 were able to change their work hours with their employers, and four in 10 were able to go for prenatal checks without utilising their annual leave, sick leave or no pay leave.
“Employers should look at family-friendly measures as long-term benefits to the company. The extent which companies support and accommodate the needs of expectant women workers is also a test of our willingness and readiness to help them manage work and family responsibilities,” said Ms Toh.
“Such supportive arrangements will not only help encourage mothers to return to work after their delivery but, more importantly, attract and retain these valuable talents in their jobs.”
ABOVE AND BEYOND
NTUC U Family on Friday started surprise visits “to show appreciation to employers or co-workers who have shown invaluable support for expectant mothers”, or “working caregivers who have to juggle responsibilities between work and family”.
There are currently 165 unionised companies that provide employees with some form of family-care leave beyond what is required by the legislation, said NTUC U Family.
“As indicated in the latest Conditions of Employment 2014, there are now more companies offering FWA and non-statutory family-friendly paid leaves,” it said. “NTUC U Family will continue to work with unions and relevant partners to raise awareness on the importance of having such family-friendly practices at the workplaces.”