Childcare leave on per-child basis may hurt employability of some parents: Josephine Teo

Minister of Manpower and Second Minister of Home Affairs Josephine Teo. (SCREENGRAB: Parliament)

SINGAPORE — Giving more childcare leave on a per-child basis can “inadvertently affect the employment prospects” of parents with more children, said Minister of Manpower and Second Minister of Home Affairs Josephine Teo in a written reply.

She was responding on Monday night (7 October), on the behalf of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, to a parliamentary question filed by Nee Soon GRC Member of Parliament Louis Ng, who asked about the rationale behind not providing childcare leave to parents on a per-child basis.

“Childcare leave is given on a per parent basis today to balance between supporting parents in their care-giving responsibilities, and meeting employers' manpower needs. We need to take a practical approach on this matter,” said Teo.

Employers are concerned that increasing these leave provisions could adversely impact their manpower costs and operations, she added.

Currently, parents of Singaporean children are eligible for six days of childcare leave per year when their children are aged below seven years old, up from two days in 2008.

Since 2013, parents with children aged seven to 12 are eligible for two days of extended childcare leave per year.

Beyond leave provisions, Teo said that the government encourages and provides support to companies to implement Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) to develop a “more family-friendly work culture”.

“Employers may access the enhanced Work-Life Grant which has been raised to $100 million recently, and make use of the new job-sharing implementation guide to offer FWAs to employees,” she added.

Two tripartite standards – on FWAs and on unpaid leave for unexpected care needs – were launched last year to encourage companies to provide additional support for employees' personal or caregiving responsibilities.

“We regularly review leave policies and other workplace arrangements to better support parents to manage their work and family commitments. The Citizens' Panel on Work-Life Harmony was just formed for Singaporeans to partner the government to develop new ways for society and workplaces to better support families in Singapore,” said Teo.

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