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Supporting Singaporeans in parenthood

  • The Straits Times (12 October 2019): Sending out wrong signals about parenting

Supporting Singaporeans in parenthood
- The Straits Times, 5 November 2019

  1. We share Dr Kenny Ching’s desire to support family-building and raise the overall fertility rate (“Sending out wrong signals about parenting”, October 12).
  2. This is why we have progressively enhanced childcare leave provisions to support Singaporeans in managing their work and family responsibilities.
  3. Today, parents of Singaporean children aged below seven are eligible for six days of childcare leave per year, up from two days in 2008. In 2013, we introduced two days of extended childcare leave per year, for parents whose youngest children are aged seven to 12. Employees, including parents, are entitled to annual leave; almost half have at least 15 days of leave.
  4. Over the years, we have also enhanced maternity and paternity leave provisions. In addition, we actively promote adoption of the Tripartite Standards on Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) and Unpaid Leave for Unexpected Care Needs. As at end-September 2019, about 1,900 and 800 employers adopted these Standards respectively, covering about 450,000 and 250,000 employees.
  5. Additionally, we provide tangible support to employers to adopt more family-friendly practices. For example, the Work-Life Grant provides funding support for employers to sustain their employees’ adoption of FWAs. The Government enhanced the Grant in 2018 and recently raised its budget to $100 million.
  6. Contrary to Dr Ching’s assertion, these developments send a clear and unequivocal signal to employers, i.e. parenthood is strongly supported. Furthermore, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices regularly investigates complaints of workplace discrimination and has worked with the Ministry of Manpower for actions to be taken against errant employers.
  7. When considering further enhancements to childcare leave provisions, the responsible approach is to take into account the interests of both employees and employers.
  8. The Citizens’ Panel on Work-Life Harmony is one example of the Government and tripartite partners working with citizens and the community to co-develop sustainable solutions, balancing the interests of all stakeholders.

    Mr Lim Tze Jiat
    Director, Employment Standards & International Relations
    Workplace Policy and Strategy Division
    Ministry of Manpower

    Dr Fereen Liew
    Director, Marriage & Parenthood Policy Directorate
    National Population & Talent Division

Sending out the wrong signals about parenting
- The Straits Times, 12 October 2019

  1. Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said in Parliament in Monday that providing childcare leave on a per-child basis may hurt the employability of some parents.
  2. First, this inherently acknowledges that discrimination against working parents does happen in the workplace.
  3. Second, the Government should legislate against such discrimination instead of essentially supporting it.
  4. Third, by putting employers' concerns over that of the employee, the Government is reinforcing the perception that parenthood is detrimental to employment,
  5. This goes counter to Singapore's efforts to support family-building and raise the overall fertility rate.

Kenny Ching (Dr)