Parliamentary reply by Minister Indranee Rajah on childcare leave for parents of older children with special needs
FOURTEENTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
TUESDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2022
Ms Mariam Jaafar:
To ask the Prime Minister whether childcare leave provisions for parents of children with special needs can be extended until the child is 18 years of age.
Ms Indranee Rajah (for the Prime Minister):
Today, childcare leave is provided for working parents of children up till the age of 12. Each working parent of a Singaporean child, including those with special needs, is eligible for six days of paid childcare leave per year when their youngest child is below seven years old, and two days of paid extended childcare leave per year when their youngest child is aged seven to 12.
We appreciate that children with special needs may require additional care beyond age 12, and that their parents will value additional support. However, any enhancement to leave provisions will need to strike the balance in addressing the caregiving needs of parents, and the manpower and operational needs of employers.
Beyond legislated leave provisions, we encourage employers to provide a family-friendly work environment to help parents manage their work and caregiving responsibilities, such as through adopting the Tripartite Standards on Flexible Work Arrangements and on Unpaid Leave for Unexpected Care Needs, which were introduced in 2017 and 2018 respectively. To better support parents of children with special needs, employers can, for instance, offer flexible work arrangements so parents may work from home or adjust their regular work hours to better tend to caregiving needs, or take a few hours off work to bring their child for medical appointments or developmental assessments when needed.
The Government has also steadily improved overall support for the childcare needs of parents of children with special needs. In 2020, we enhanced subsidies for the Special Student Care Centre programme, which provides before-and-after school care service and supervision for students in Special Education Schools. Working mothers who seek caregiving help from grandparents can also now tap on the Grandparent Caregiver Relief scheme to get $3,000 of tax relief, regardless of the child’s age for those with special needs. As part of the Enabling Masterplan 2030, MSF is also looking into enhancing the range of respite care options for caregivers, which parents of children with special needs will be able to tap on.
We will continue to study together with MSF and other relevant agencies how to better support working parents, including those with children with special needs.