Parliamentary reply by Minister Indranee Rajah on Plans to review Government-Paid Childcare Leave
FOURTEENTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
TUESDAY, 5 JANUARY 2021
Mr Gan Thiam Poh:
To ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has plans to review the number of Government-Paid Childcare Leave since it was last increased from two days to six days in 2008 and, if not, why.
Ms Indranee Rajah (for the Prime Minister):
We have enhanced parental leave provisions progressively over the years. Following the enhancement of the Government-Paid Childcare Leave scheme for parents with children aged below seven years old from two to six days per year in 20081, we introduced two days of Extended Childcare Leave per year to parents with children aged 7 to 12 in 2013. 2 In 2017, we also increased paternity leave to two weeks, and enhanced shared parental leave from one to four weeks. 2
We have taken a practical approach to calibrating childcare leave provisions. Any enhancements will need to balance the caregiving needs of parents with the manpower and operational needs of employers. In particular, given that childcare leave is provided for 12 years after birth, we are careful to avoid inadvertently affecting parents’ employability.
Beyond legislated leave provisions, it is important 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 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 progressively implementing the recommendations of the Citizens’ Panel on Work-Life Harmony that were submitted last year, such as growing a community of Work Life Ambassadors, and developing an FWA implementation guide to facilitate companies in implementing FWAs.
Today, the vast majority of employees are benefitting from FWAs. In 2019, about 85% of employers offered some form of FWAs. These numbers have increased during the COVID-19 period with employers required to implement work-from-home and FWAs for the safety of their workers. As employers and workers become more accustomed to FWAs, it is opportune for Tripartite Partners to study ways to evolve and entrench FWAs, to better support working parents in their caregiving needs.
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, Government-Paid Paternity Leave, and Government-Paid Shared Parental Leave schemes.