Parliamentary reply by Minister Josephine Teo on Paternity Leave
THIRTEENTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
TUESDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2020
Mr Louis Ng:
To ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will consider implementing recommendations from the “Stay-at-home Fathers” study conducted by an Institute of Policy Studies researcher, especially the recommendation that exclusive, non-transferable paternity leave should be increased.
Mrs Josephine Teo (for the Prime Minister):
Fathers play an important role in their children’s development. International studies have shown that when fathers are more involved, their children have better physical, cognitive and emotional developmental outcomes. Greater paternal involvement in the home also helps mothers to stay active in the workforce. Local research has shown that Singaporean fathers are playing a more active role in caregiving and family responsibilities. This is encouraging.
We have progressively increased parental leave for fathers over the years, to better support working parents and help fathers to play an active role in caring for their children.
In 2017, we increased paternity leave and shared parental leave to two and four weeks respectively. This took into account feedback from some parents that shared parental leave was helpful in allowing fathers and mothers to decide flexibly how best to care for their child, based on their own family circumstances. Today, fathers can tap on eight weeks of leave in their child’s first year, almost double the amount compared to five years ago1.
We are glad to see that more fathers are using their paternity leave, with take-up rates increasing from 25% in 2013 to 53% for recent cohorts. Our priority should therefore be to encourage and enable more fathers to take their paternity leave before considering further enhancements. We are also mindful of the need to carefully balance the needs of parents with the concerns of employers over the needs at the workplace. The Government will continue to identify ways to better support parents in managing their work and family responsibilities, such as by promoting the adoption of flexible work arrangements, and working with employers and community partners to strengthen attitudes and norms in support of fatherhood.
The study by the Institute of Policy Studies recognised that fathers’ roles are also shaped by societal norms. MSF partners non-profit organisations such as the Centre for Fathering to promote the “Dads for Life” and “Mums for Life” movements in schools, workplaces and the wider community. These movements go a long way in driving mindset shifts among employers, colleagues, friends and families, to give greater recognition and support to the important roles fathers and mothers play in the lives of their children. The Government will continue to work with business and community partners to promote greater paternal involvement.
1 In 2015, fathers could tap on five weeks of leave, viz. two weeks of paid paternity leave (the second week was voluntary for employers to provide), one week of paid shared parental leave, one week of paid child care leave, and one week of unpaid infant care leave.