Lee Hsien Loong
has announced that paternity leave will doubled from one to two weeks, applying retroactively from 1 January 2015.
This move allows fathers of SG50 babies to spend more time with their newborn sons and daughters this year.
“Fathers play a vital role in bringing up children. You have to do your part. It is not just the mother’s responsibility to care for and raise your children,” PM Lee said.
“Having a child is a major responsibility but we will help you, because every Singaporean child is precious to us.”
This additional week of leave will be paid for by the government and will be implemented on a voluntary basis at first. This means corporations aren’t obliged to offer it, although not doing so may sow some discontent amongst employees.
To serve as an example, PM Lee said the public service would volunteer to bring in this extended leave right away.
Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said the additional leave wasn’t made mandatory because of the current tight labour market.
“We understand that there will be some adjustments needed so we hope that more will come on board when they have gotten themselves ready,” she said.
“Critical mass will set the tone," Fu noted. "The labour market is competitive and we hope that with some big employers leading the way, others will have to follow in order to attract and retain talent.”
This move extends the government’s laws on paternity leave. Under current regulations, working fathers are entitled to one week of paternity leave, capped at S$2,500 including Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions.
Employers are required to offer one continuous ‘work week’ of leave to eligible employees within 16 weeks of the birth of their child. This is defined as the number of days that a staff member typically works during a one week period.
Businesses and workers can also come to a mutual agreement and allow staff to take their allocated time off as they please (as one week or as separate days) in the period of time before the child’s first birthday.
Companies may also be obligated to offer an additional week to working fathers under the government’s shared parental leave scheme which will be subtracted from their wife’s 16 weeks of maternity leave.
Employers who choose to implement the PM’s newly announced voluntary paternity leave may thus be giving working fathers a total of three weeks of government-paid leave to take care of their child.
Details about this additional period of paternity leave will be announced later on this week.
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