Minister Indranee Rajah said while the government has "progressively enhanced" parental leave schemes, supporting the caregiving needs of parents "must be balanced with the manpower and operational needs of employers."
On 10 March 2022 (Wednesday), Singapore's Leader of the House in the Parliament of Singapore, Indranee Rajah responded to a Parliamentary question on the doubling of paternity leave in Singapore, that was posed by Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Ng.
MP Ng, directing the question to the Prime Minister, had asked whether the Government will:
- Study the doubling of paternity leave by several multinational companies in Singapore to examine the effect on employability, productivity, and family relationships of the employees in these companies, and
- Consider doubling the paternity leave for all fathers.
In response, on behalf of the Prime Minister, Minister Indranee explained that there is international research proving that paid parental leave, which includes paternity leave, benefits employers in terms of talent attraction, employee retention, and productivity; and that paternity leave is also associated with stronger relationships between fathers and their children, as well as with their wives.
With that in mind, she shared that the Government has already "progressively enhanced parental leave schemes" to better support parents, and particularly fathers in playing a bigger role in raising their children. One evidence, she cited, was in 2017, when the Government made the second week of paternity leave mandatory, and increased shared parental leave from one to four weeks.
"Fathers can now take up to eight weeks of leave — which comprise two weeks of paid paternity leave, four weeks of paid shared parental leave, about one week (six days) of paid childcare leave, and about one week (six days) of unpaid infant care leave — in total in their child’s first year, to bond with their newborns and care for their wives," the Minister added.
That said, Minister Indranee is aware that supporting the caregiving needs of parents "must be balanced with the manpower and operational needs of employers", as highlighted in her Committee of Supply speech last week. "A more sustainable approach is for companies to develop a family-friendly culture," she explained.
At the moment, the Minister and the Government "are heartened" that some companies in Singapore are leaning forward to offer additional paternity leave, on top of legislated provisions. She shared that there are also "other ways to provide more flexible leave options for staff" — as evident in how many companies signed up to the Tripartite Standards on Unpaid Leave for Unexpected Care Needs, which allows parents to take up to four weeks of unpaid leave per year if their child is: aged below two, and born preterm, part of multiple births, or has medical conditions.
Minister Indranee concluded that the Government welcomes these progressive companies to share their experiences and best practices with other companies. This is because the needs of companies vary and employers, in partnership with their employees, are best placed to assess and implement the family-friendly arrangements suited to the company’s context.
While that is in progress, "we will continue to work with tripartite partners to review the scope for more parental leave provisions, and build a Singapore that is 'Made For Families'," she said.
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