The challenges single mums face finding work
Aware says more should be done to incentivise single mothers to remain in the work force
Some single mothers in Singapore might be better off jobless than employed.
This is because the welfare benefits they get, while unemployed, could be more than the financial assistance they would receive if they were working.
But this is not the life low-income single mothers want and finding work is still their preference, said the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware).
Earlier this month, Aware released a paper detailing the issues surrounding single, low-income mothers' struggle with employment and making ends meet.
In their study, Aware also profiled married low-income mothers. The challenges these mothers face include not having enough accessible childcare options, unequal caretaking responsibilities and the lack of decent work.
One change Aware suggested was an extension to financial assistance scheme ComCare.
ComCare provides social assistance for low-income individuals and families.
Aware said, until recently, ComCare payments would expire once recipients became employed.
Aware, with help from local non-governmental agency, Daughters of Tomorrow, profiled unemployed single mothers.
They included single mothers, both with and without pre-existing debt.
In the long term, it is not sustainable to rely on subsidies and assistance.Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng
Ms Rosilah Abdul Hamid, 34, a welfare officer at a children's home, was divorced six years ago. She has to support herself and her two young children.
She could not stay at a job for longer than her lease, for fear that the rental price will rise when the lease is renewed or she will lose financial assistance.
Ms Rosilah also found it hard to hold down a job as she could not find accessible childcare.
Another woman, who has two children and no debt, was able to save $230 a month while unemployed. She would be set back by $160 when employed, including increased expenditure such as transport cost.
After a recent policy change, ComCare will taper off once the beneficiary is employed and will not be cut off completely. Despite this, Aware thinks that more should be done to incentivise single mothers to work.
Experts think while financial assistance is important, there are other policies that could make finding and maintaining employment easier for women.
Professor Ng Yew Kwang from the Economics division at Nanyang Technological University's School of Social Sciences told The New Paper: "The situation of some women wanting to work but find working would lead to less disposable income as described in the report is certainly a concern.
"However, the Government appears to be aware of this problem and is providing ComCare to lessen the problem."
But Aware has suggested ComCare be extended to ensure that women are supported more extensively for longer periods. And ComCare should only begin tapering off six months into the beneficiary's employment.
Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng told TNP he has not come across cases where women are better off not working, but he understands they might face difficulties regarding work.
Mr Ng said: "It could be hard for them to go out and work, for example, if their child gets ill, and there is no one else to look after the child...
"But in the long term, it is not sustainable to rely on subsidies and assistance."
Mr Ng said that help such as more childcare leave or more help and support in the application process for grants and assistance could be put in place to enable single mothers to work.
In their paper, Aware also suggested that more accessible childcare options and flexible work arrangements would be helpful for single mothers.
Dr Mathew Mathews, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, told TNP the bigger issues for many low-income mothers is how to juggle their child's needs and their work.
He said: "It is about finding work that might be able to offer some flexibility especially if they have a young child who may fall ill and not be able to be at childcare for a stretch and no other caregiver is around to take care of the child."