President Halimah calls for wider adoption of flexi-work arrangements to support women with family obligations

President Halimah Yacob said it would be beneficial to continue telecommuting arrangements taken up by companies even after the coronavirus crisis subsides.
President Halimah Yacob said it would be beneficial to continue telecommuting arrangements taken up by companies even after the coronavirus crisis subsides.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - In line with International Women's Day on Sunday (March 8), President Halimah Yacob said that women in Singapore have progressed in all areas, but more could be done to support them on the work front.

"Women are doing well in Singapore. We've seen progress in all areas. However, we could do more in the area of flexible working arrangements," she said in a Facebook video and post, calling for more to be done to make it easier for women with family obligations to work.

Madam Halimah, who is Singapore's first woman president, pointed to how companies had taken to telecommuting, or working from home or remotely, to prevent the cross infection of staff over the current coronavirus situation - as they had during Sars - and added how it would be beneficial to continue this even after the crisis subsides.

"Companies should consider making telecommuting a real option for their staff. Somehow, telecommuting has never really taken off except during health crises such as these," she said.

"Imagine how many more women with young children could remain in the workforce if they could telecommute. Imagine the kind of skills and talents among women that we could retain to benefit our society and economy. With dual income families more of a necessity today, we should make it easier for women with family obligations to work.

"I hope that after Covid-19, telecommuting will not disappear but will be a more permanent feature," she added.

President Halimah's call for more flexible working arrangements for women comes soon after the issue of flexi-work and caregiving, especially for women who have to juggle work and home responsibilities, was brought up by MPs in Parliament during the debate on the manpower ministry's budget last week.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling stressed the Government's commitment to making workplaces fairer and more progressive for women, and said it will make offering options to make flexi-work easier for employers.

Among other things, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices' website will be a one-stop flexi-work resource, and consolidate flexi-work implementation guides.There will also be a free online tool to help employers include flexi-work clauses in their employee contracts, Ms Low said.