More than 1,000 companies have registered to join the Work-Life Grant, a new initiative that provides funding and incentives for firms to provide flexible work arrangements for their workers.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 3), Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said that implementing such flexible work arrangements could be an effective strategy to support working mothers during their pregnancy and parenthood. Under the Work-Life Grant, she said that companies can receive up to $160,000 over four years for the implementation of such programme.
Previously, there was a question from MP for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng on whether MOM will consider setting up particular grant where companies can sign up to partially compensate their cost of hiring one temporary staff member when a female employee entering their second trimester of pregnancy until their employee’s child turns two years old.
Citing from the official website of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the grant aims to help employees better manage work and family responsibilities, as well as a way to enhance the pro-family environment in Singapore. Additionally, Ms Teo has stated that the Work-Life Grant is made for broad intentions. Since there are various needs of companies that MOM cannot predict in advance, they will leave the companies to specify and design interventions that work for themselves.
She also said companies send a proposal and MOM will take a look at it. With this scheme, the ministry expects to support the proposal if it makes sense and suitable for what the company is hoping to achieve. Ms Teo brought up examples of two companies she encountered recently who found solutions to deal with their employees’ pregnancy and related issues.
At a well-known food services company, a term-contract employee was hired in order to help some of the pregnant employee’s responsibilities. Meanwhile, an accounting and corporate secretarial services firm used the Work-Life Grant and invested the budget to build a technology that allows clients to see and discuss projects with employees working from home.
Mr Ng asked if more could be done to support working mothers before and after their maternity leave. Saying that he was speaking on behalf of a woman who was experiencing discrimination because she was expecting baby, he asked if a study could be conducted to find out about such discrimination on the related case.
Ms Teo replied that if there is a party interested in getting involved and investigated in the study, MOM will be happy to work with this party to see how it can support it, Channel News Asia.