(Credit: Željka Živković)

The European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) on Thursday called for concerted efforts by the public and private sectors to create family-friendly workplaces to help reverse Taiwan’s low birthrate and population decline.

The demographic trend, if left unaddressed, would lead to a shortage of workers and talent, boding ill for social and economic health, the foreign trade group said.

Taiwan’s labour and talent shortage has a lot to do with work-life conflicts, low financial security and a lack of daycare, among other issues, it said, citing a survey of 1,236 local employees and employers by human resource consultancy Adecco Taiwan in cooperation with the ECCT.

Businesses can play a key role in addressing work-life conflicts by creating more family-friendly, diverse and inclusive workplaces, the chamber said.

At present, the family-friendly policies most businesses offer are flexible working hours and remote/hybrid work, it said.

Respondents ranked work-family balance as the third most important factor after salary and job stability, the survey found.

That means parents need more financial support and flexible working options, it said, adding that having flexible working hours and being able to work remotely are considered extremely helpful for people who wish to balance work and family life.

There is also a clear link between childcare subsidies, allowances and paid parental leave offered by companies and their willingness to have children, it said.

Many companies offer subsidies, such as marriage and maternity allowances and parental leave, above the statutory requirement, it said.

The major challenges to working and family balance stem from concerns about performance review results and chances for gaining a promotion when taking family leave, as cited by 39.89 % of respondents, it found.

Difficulty in finding jobs that can meet employees’ job requirements and family demands ranked second at 39.36 %, it said.

Long working hours and little private time come as the third obstacle at 37.65 %, it said.

Most employees rely on daycare facilities or support from relatives for childcare or they are forced to sacrifice working hours or switch to a part-time job to take care of their children, it said.

The most common stress reported by employees with children is a lack of time and energy to take care of their children due to long working hours, followed by worries about the quality of infant and childcare facilities, it said.

As for the low birthrate, 64.46 % of respondents said having a quality personal life tops their list of concerns, followed by the desire to save money and buy a home or pay a mortgage at 63.37 %, and financial instability at 57.23 %, it said.

Nearly 50 % attributed it to not having the right partner, 41.88 % reported difficulty arranging childcare and 38.12 % cited living in an unfavourable social environment due to pollution, a poor education system and a highly competitive society, it said.

When making childbearing decisions, financial stability is considered the most important, followed by having the right partner, possessing good physical and mental health, and other concerns, it said. – Taipei Times


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