Part-time workers in demand

Part-time workers in demand

When Mrs Henny Surya, 34, was looking for a job two years ago, her mind was set on a part-time role.

A 9am to 1pm work arrangement would allow her to spend more time with her four-year-old daughter.

She found a job as an accounts manager at business consultancy 361 Degree and is still with the firm.

"I would be able to spend only a few hours with my daughter in the evenings if I'm working full-time. That is not ideal," said Mrs Surya.

More companies are turning to part-time workers as it has become difficult to hire full-time staff in the tight labour market.

The Manpower Ministry labour force report last year showed that 10.5 per cent of the resident workforce, or 220,200, were part-time workers.

This is an increase from 2008 when 6.8 per cent of the resident workforce, or 126,800, were part-timers.

Employers said offering part-time work arrangements allows them to attract mothers with young children, and older workers who tend to prefer shorter work days.

"Some mothers with young kids would rather not take up the job if we are not able to offer them part-time work," said Ms Nur Wasilah M. Salleh, a human resource manager at 361 Degree.

Three of the company's 26 staff work part-time in accounting and administration roles.

Other than mothers and older workers, more firms are offering middle- to senior-level employees part-time work arrangements as a way to retain them, said HR experts.

Ms Linda Teo, country manager of recruitment firm ManpowerGroup Singapore, said: "They are highly skilled and competent but have varied reasons for working part-time, such as studies or having to care for family members."

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) said more firms recognise that work-life integration is a priority for workers.

It pointed to a poll commissioned by Employer Alliance and The Straits Times last year which showed that 85 per cent of the 1,000 employees surveyed are drawn to firms which help them to juggle work and family commitments.

Introducing flexi-work practices helps companies position themselves as employers of choice, added a Tafep spokesman.

Employers agreed.

OCBC said the bank caters to its employees' changing needs by allowing them to switch from full-time to part-time jobs. They also have a choice to go back to working full-time later.

"We believe that work and personal life are complementary and not competing priorities," said Ms Jacinta Low, OCBC's head of human resource planning.

However, some older workers pointed out that they work part-time as they are not able to find full-time work that offers good terms.

Freelance finance executive Patricia Teo, 58, said: "Some companies were offering me about $2,000 for a full-time job when I have over 30 years of experience. We don't have that much bargaining power because we are older."

The former head of finance in a small and medium-sized firm now works half a day on weekdays for three companies and earns about $4,000 a month.

Mr Zainudin Nordin, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower, said part-time workers who want to land full-time jobs should go for training to make themselves more marketable.

"The fact that they have found part-time jobs shows that their skills are valued. Employers should also be open-minded and consider them when a full-time role opens up," he said.

ameltan@sph.com.sg

joseow@sph.com.sg

HIGHLY SKILLED, COMPETENT WORKERS

They are highly skilled and competent but have varied reasons for working part-time, such as studies or having to care for family members.

- Ms Linda Teo, country manager of recruitment firm ManpowerGroup Singapore, on more firms offering middle- to senior-level employees part-time work arrangements as a way to retain them.


This article was first published on June 2, 2015.
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