What can companies in Singapore do to help new mothers transition back into the workplace after maternity leave? Read on to find out more...
For most mothers in Singapore, the birth of a baby does not herald hours of snuggling with the little one as flowers bloom and rainbows dart across the sky. No, the first thing most of my friends think about after giving birth is all the work they’re going to have to catch up on when they get back to the office.
That’s not an exaggeration, by the way. The infamous Happiness Poll found that 9 out of 10 women intend to head right back to the workplace after maternity leave.
Singaporean women continue to lament that too little is being done to help them make a smooth transition back to the workplace—or at least one that doesn’t make them wish they had married a tycoon so they wouldn’t have to go through the stress of trying to make things work in an unforgiving professional environment.
Here are some of the options typically offered by companies:
Flexible or staggered hours
While the civil service has taken the lead in offering employees the option of staggered hours, companies in the private sector have been slow to follow suit.
Many local SMEs are still too afraid to give up control of their employees by letting them work flexible hours. That’s what happens when employee performance is gauged based on face time rather than performance, an old-fashioned approach that is hampering productivity.
Even those who do manage to broker special arrangements are the exception rather than the rule.
Lilian, a 38-year-old secretary and mother of three, succeeded in getting her boss to allow her to come in and leave the office an hour early each day—but only because the company had been desperate when they hired her and agreed only so she would accept the job. She isn’t the only mother in the office, but none of her colleagues are allowed to leave the office a minute earlier, even if they arrive in the wee hours of the morning.
In addition, she has to deal with discrimination at the office from colleagues and superiors due to her special arrangement.
“Many of my colleagues do their work slowly and leave late, but because I have to pick up my kids after school, I force myself to be very efficient during working hours so I can leave on the dot. My boss often complains when I leave on time as she has to stay back at least one more hour, and some of my colleagues seem to think that I’m doing less work than them because I leave earlier.”
There are companies that have benefited from helping their employees arrange their work around the new changes in their lives, and communication is key when a flexible work arrangement is put in place.
Some companies offer part-time employment or work-from-home arrangements to help mothers who are returning to work after maternity leave. Find out more on the next page.