Budget roundtable

Enabling mums to get back to work

Mothers who quit their jobs after giving birth but whose children are now older should be given more opportunities to return to the workforce, said experts.

Their participation in the workforce - together with that of older workers - could potentially increase labour supply and boost economic growth, UOB's Mr Gan noted.

SBF's Mr Ho said the participation rate in the workforce for women past their childbearing age is "not as high", although many want to return to employment. The lack of relevant skills and the issue of reintegration might be challenges, he said.

He added: "Maybe more flexible arrangement (can be) provided by employers... I think it's going to be a boost for employers and it's going to be a boost for (addressing) inequality in terms of the income side."

NTUC's Mr Tay noted that the female labour force participation rate had gone up in the last five years, but agreed that more flexible work arrangements could help women to balance coming back to the workforce with looking after the family.

However, he added that another issue is the time they spent away from work. "They may have lost touch... a lot of things may have developed and changed. Even the methodology, the work, the job may not be there. Some of the jobs (may) have disappeared and new jobs are in. So how can we make sure that they get the new skills and are trained to fill these new jobs?"

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 24, 2019, with the headline Enabling mums to get back to work. Subscribe