AWARE seeks eldercare leave

by HRD19 Jan 2017
The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) recently proposed the implementation of ‘eldercare leave’ as part of its wish list in the run up to budget announcements in February.

The gender equality advocacy group said this is especially important in light of Singapore’s ageing population, and the undue pressure it puts on women.

“Women tend to face more financial insecurity in old age; second, when older people’s needs go unmet, women in the family make disproportionate sacrifices to ensure their care,” said Jolene Tan, head of advocacy and research at AWARE.

The advocacy group called on the government “to collect and publish systematic data on the needs of workers who have eldercare responsibilities,” to address the concerns companies might have on the legislation’s impact on the labour market.

“The potential burden on employers of introducing such leave may be more limited and less open-ended than popularly believed,” the group’s statement said.

In addition to eldercare leave, the group also proposed increasing the length of paternity leave by another two weeks (from two weeks), increasing shared parental leaves to two months (from one), and making adoption leave gender-neutral by offering the same time off to both mothers and fathers.

“Gender norms promoting the unequal division of household and care labour are a key cause of women’s relative financial insecurity. If caregiving is more equitably shared between genders, this economic inequality will also decrease,” the group said.

“Moreover, employers would have to recalibrate their expectations about working hours if they face the reality that all workers, regardless of gender, have family responsibilities to fulfil”.

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