Parliamentary reply by Minister Indranee Rajah on studies on reservist obligations and parental leave
FOURTEENTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
TUESDAY, 4 OCTOBER 2022
Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang:
To ask the Prime Minister (a) whether any study has been conducted on how employers balance their operational needs against reservist obligations of Operationally Ready National Servicemen for up to 40 days per year; (b) if such studies have been conducted, whether the Ministry can study how such measures can be applied to parental and childcare leave; and (c) if such studies have not been conducted, whether the Ministry will consider conducting such studies and, if not, why not.
Ms Indranee Rajah (for the Prime Minister):
National Service (NS) is key to Singapore’s defence and security. In a survey by the Institute of Policy Studies commissioned by MINDEF in 2013, 77% of employed NSmen said that their employers had adjusted their workload due to their NS commitments. In MINDEF’s engagements with employers, employers also shared how they made arrangements for other employees to temporarily cover the work, when their NSmen colleagues are called up for In-Camp Training (ICT). This is enabled by MINDEF/SAF ensuring that NSmen are informed of their ICT call-ups three to six months in advance.
Through our focus group discussions with parents as well as feedback from employers, we found that employers address their operational and business needs in similar ways when their employees take parental or childcare leave. For instance, for time-sensitive frontline roles, or if the leave is for an extended period as is the case for maternity leave, employers typically re-allocate work to other employees or hire temporary or part-time workers to fill the gap. For less time-sensitive roles or when the leave duration is relatively short, for instance, a couple of days of childcare leave, employees could have the flexibility to adjust work schedules as long as overall work deliverables and deadlines are met. We encourage parents to discuss their parental or childcare leave plans with their employers early, so that employers can plan for covering work arrangements if needed.
Such workplace practices are examples of how employers can maintain operational resilience while supporting their employees in balancing their work and personal responsibilities, whether for NS commitments or parental or childcare leave. We will continue to work closely with tripartite partners and employers to encourage the adoption of progressive workplace practices.