Employability after a career break

The year was 2013. Tricia* had just given birth to her second daughter and decided to take a career break to take care of her children. She had exhausted her childcare options – her parents were not willing to help, she couldn’t find infant care near her place, and the 2 helpers she tried to engage didn’t work out… Fast forward to 2019. With the kids going to primary school, she was ready to go back to work and pick up where she left off!

Tricia was fortunate. Through her freelancing stints, she had built up a strong network and was able to find a new role relatively soon through a contact’s recommendation. But many other mothers who are ready to return to the workplace are not as lucky. For mothers above 40s, the situation may be bleaker.

Mothers returning to work SingaporeUnsplash

Tip: If you are a mother who is planning to return to the workforce once your kids are older, keeping relevant through courses, freelancing stints, and networking are important!

Workplace stereotypes

In this day and age, many mothers are able to have a career and take care of their families. Yet, the struggles that go on behind the scenes remain. The fact remains that many mothers above 40 are finding it hard to re-enter the workplace, and a significant number of employers somehow consider them less competent or relevant. ☹

“Leaving on time – Mothers at the workplace are less driven and ambitious.”

“Ambitious mothers – Do they even care about their kids?”

Sound familiar? Well, 42-year-old marketing director, Vera*, shared that she actually goes into the office before everyone else so she can get a head start before the many meetings of the day. While she has to leave on time to go back to spend some time with her kids before their bedtime, she continues any urgent work after the kids go to bed at 9pm. To workers like her, flexibility at the workplace means more than you think. The work gets done, and the kids get attended to! 😊

Really, with a mindset change, flexible work arrangements can create a win-win situation for both employers and working mothers!

Caregiving duties

Being the sandwiched generation, older working women may face another set of problems. Pressure taking care of elderly parents and children at the same time can be stressful. Can employers and even co-workers better support this group of workers? For sure!




Discrimination is real

During the hiring process, some women face discrimination based on the assumption that they will have to take on more childcare duties in the near future. When hiring, we have even heard of some employers questioning women of childbearing age about their personal plans and relationships! Well, for employers like these, you can always report here.

Retirement adequacy

According to a CNA report, the median age of first births for Singaporean mothers is 30.3 years old, with the number of women giving birth in their 40s doubling over the past 30 years. Fact: Singaporean couples are having children later. As they reach their 40s, it’s inevitable for women to think about retirement even as they struggle to keep up with family expenses. A survey by insurer Great Eastern found that women were less financially prepared for retirement as compared to men!

At a recent event for workers above 40, NTUC Deputy Secretary General, Mr Heng Chee How also chatted with participants on their concerns including the topic of retirement adequacy. What is your ideal retirement life? What kind of support do you need?

Share your feedback here and start a conversation with NTUC to kick-start a better future for you.

NTUC Deputy Secretary General engaging workers at a focus group discussionNTUC Deputy Secretary General engaging workers at a focus group discussion
Via Instagram Heng Chee How

Mothers are superwomen. With a bit of support from progressive employers, full time working mothers are perfectly capable of balancing their careers and their families! Agree?

This article was contributed by Ling.

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