The Manpower Ministry is planning to issue a regulation that will make it possible for women to work more flexible hours and thus increase their participation in the labor market.
Flexible working hours will also help businesses keep up with rapid industrial changes.
Speaking at a national coordinating meeting on manpower recently, Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri said the rigid regulations stipulated in Law No. 13/2013 had led to the relatively low participation of women in the labor market.
The law states that workers who work for five days a week should complete at least eight hours a day and 40 hours a week.
Quoting Statistics Indonesia data, Hanif said the participation rate of women in the labor force as of August 2018 was 51.88 percent, far lower than 82.69 percent for men.
“The rigid regulation is not beneficial for women as they have double pressures related to their tasks in nurturing their families and developing their careers,” he said.
Hanif said if women, especially mothers, work for such a long period of time during the week, they would have to choose one of two options — caring for their families or pursuing their careers — which hampers their participation in the labor market.
Therefore, the minister expressed hope that this year the ministry could introduce a regulation on more flexible working hours.
“Under the current regulation, who would hire people who could only work limited hours per week?” he added, “This is why I believe everything has to start from the revision of the regulation.”
The minister said a new regulation with more flexible working hours was also needed to accommodate technological developments so that Indonesia could keep up with the vast changes of the industrial world.
In retail, for example, employees could work on weekends or without having to go to their office, he said.
In relation to Law No. 13/2013, the Indonesian Employers Association called it outdated, saying it had yet to regulate employer obligations, including on wages and protections for workers who were employed under partnership contracts or on a freelance basis.
Besides flexible working hours, Hanif also said at the meeting that all Manpower Ministry staff should promote to the public the importance of social security for workers through their participation in the Workers Social Security Agency insurance scheme.
He said better awareness on the insurance and flexible working hours would help improve the quality of the country’s workforce.
At the same event, Manpower Ministry secretary-general, Khairul Anwar, revealed that the ministry, under its 2019 program, would focus on the development of human resources.
“We, for example, are working for the inclusivity and competitiveness of the country’s human resources through job training for migrant workers, internships and infrastructure development for vocational training centers,” he said.
Minister Hanif added the government had allocated Rp 5.7 trillion (US$403 million) for the programs this year, which was higher than last year’s Rp 3.9 trillion. (aak)
This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post's print edition on Jan. 12, 2019, with the title "Ministry plans more flexible working hours for women".