Parliamentary reply by Minister Indranee Rajah on allowing childcare leave to be taken in shorter blocks
FOURTEENTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
WEDNESDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2021
Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim: To ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will consider allowing a certain number of days of legislated childcare leave to be taken in parts, such as in several-hour blocks, for working parents without flexible work arrangements and who have childcare needs that do not extend to the entire workday.
Ms Indranee Rajah (for the Prime Minister): Parents of Singaporean children are eligible for six days of childcare leave per year when their youngest child is aged below seven years old, or two days of extended childcare leave per year when their youngest child is between seven to 12 years old. This childcare leave can already be taken flexibly in durations shorter than one day, as long as there is mutual agreement between employers and employees.
As there may be ad-hoc occasions where parents need to attend to childcare needs for short periods of time, flexible work arrangements (FWAs) remain key to helping working parents better manage their work and family responsibilities. Exercising flexibility will help employees utilise legislated leave provisions while ensuring that employers’ business needs are met, and could help parents care for their children without having to take leave as well. Together with the tripartite partners, the Ministry of Manpower promotes the adoption of FWAs by recognising progressive employers through the Tripartite Standard on FWAs, publishing FWA implementation guides, and raising the awareness of FWAs through engagements and online marketing advertisements. The Tripartite Standard on Unpaid Leave for Unexpected Care Needs also sets out good practices to guide employers in providing unpaid leave for employees when their immediate family members have urgent caregiving needs.
In the past year, more employers have adopted FWAs such as staggered hours or work-from-home, as part of the measures to reduce interactions in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government will continue to work with tripartite partners to study ways to have FWAs become a norm at workplaces, to better support working parents in their caregiving responsibilities.