Parliamentary reply by Minister Indranee Rajah on Childcare Leave for Parents with Multiple Children
FOURTEENTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
TUESDAY, 2 FEBRUARY 2021
Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim:
To ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will consider instituting different tiers of childcare leave such that those with more children will be entitled to comparatively more days.
Ms Indranee Rajah (for the Prime Minister):
We have enhanced childcare leave provisions progressively over the years. Following the increase in Government-Paid Childcare Leave scheme from two to six days per year in 2008 1 for parents with children aged below seven years old, we introduced two days of Extended Childcare Leave per year for parents with children aged 7 to 12 in 2013. 2
We have taken a practical approach to calibrating childcare leave provisions. Any enhancements to childcare leave, including according more leave to parents with more children, will need to balance the caregiving needs of parents with the manpower and operational needs of employers. We also have to consider whether the enhancements would affect the employability of parents. Nonetheless, we will continue to study this issue to better support parents in caring for their children.
Beyond legislated leave provisions, it is more important and sustainable for employers to provide a family-friendly work environment, to help parents manage both their work and caregiving responsibilities. The Tripartite Standards on Flexible Working Arrangements (FWAs) and on Unpaid Leave for Unexpected Care Needs, introduced in 2017 and 2018 respectively, recognise progressive companies that provide additional support for employees’ personal or caregiving responsibilities. Tripartite partners are also implementing the recommendations of the Citizens’ Panel on Work-Life Harmony that were submitted in 2019. These include efforts to grow a community of Work Life Ambassadors, and developing a guide to facilitate companies’ implementation of FWAs.
Today, the vast majority of employees are benefitting from FWAs. In 2019, about 85% of employers offered some form of FWAs. These numbers increased during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 as employers were required to implement work-from-home to reduce interactions in the workplace. As employers and workers become more accustomed to FWAs, the Tripartite Partners could look into ways to have FWAs become a norm at workplaces, to better support working parents in their caregiving needs. We will continue to work with Tripartite Partners on this front.
1 Employers are responsible for the first three days of leave, while the Government reimburses employers for the fourth to sixth day of leave taken.
2 The Government reimburses employers for all leave taken under the Extended Childcare Leave Scheme.