Working mums and dads lack support in Singapore

In honour of Mother’s Day, a new study highlights employees’ struggles in balancing work and family

Working mums and dads lack support in Singapore

Singapore’s working women still face a battle when wrestling for time between work and family – and Singaporean men know it.

In honour of Mother’s Day (12 May), around 2,000 professionals across Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines were surveyed to understand the barriers both men and women face at work.

Besides the persistent challenges faced by working mums, local dads are also starting to voice their struggle to achieve work-life balance and are increasingly empathetic to their partner’s needs for support.

According to the study, 65% of men say their partners help out the most around the house, and 33% say mothers spend plenty of time with their children. It’s no surprise that 45% agree the women in their lives need more time to relax and unwind.

Returning to work after having children is also an emotional step for both men and women. While more than half of working mothers (55%) struggle with the difficulties of leaving their children at home to go to work, most men (41%) battle with the constant pressure to provide for their families. In fact, 26% of men feel their careers have suffered because of a decision to have children.

“It is great to see more Singaporeans acknowledging that the bulk of parenting load falls upon women, while also realising the need for parental leave benefits isn’t just for women, but something that can – and should – be shared across both parents,” Abhijeet Mukherjee, CEO – APAC and Gulf at told HRD.

Mukherjee's points are aligned with Manpower Minister Josephine Teo's. At an International Women's Day event earlier this year, Teo shared why employers should offer flexi-work arrangements to all who need it.

"One of my colleagues who is also a member of parliament said to me, 'I really object to this idea of flexible work arrangements (FWAs) being just for women," she said. "'Actually in the workplace there are so many people who are compatible for FWAs.'

"And I totally agree with her because when you promote FWAs as something that only women need, then it creates a certain division in the workplace, which is that 'oh this is for women, they need special treatment' – not true."

Overall, Singaporean women and mothers have many challenges at work. Just 43% of women say they have flexibility at work, with 76% requesting for more options.

More than half of mothers (55%) also believe they have missed out on career opportunities due to having children. When it comes to discrimination, 37% said they don’t earn as much as their peers. A third (33%) also feel they are “treated differently” by their colleagues or managers.

Men are also taking note of the need for flexibility, parental support and workplace policies that provide balance for everyone. Although more men say they have flexibility at work (55%) than female respondents, 71% are also desperate for more options.

More than half (53%) of men struggle with work-life balance as their main workplace challenge – above both compensation (39%) and a heavy workload (32%).

“This realisation and push for change is the first step towards balanced families – the next is organisational support,” Mukherjee said.

“Businesses and employers must understand that prioritising support for both mothers and fathers is key to embrace successful flexible work arrangements which support their employees, facilitate a seamless transition, and ensure talent are able to perform to their best ability – both in the office and at home.”

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