Parliamentary reply by Minister Indranee Rajah on support for parents of young children who have consumed all their annual leave
FOURTEENTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
MONDAY, 4 OCTOBER 2021
Mr Gan Thiam Poh:
To ask the Prime Minister whether the Ministry will consider additional measures and support for families with young children in childcare when both parents have consumed all their annual leave and their children need to be looked after at home.
Ms Indranee Rajah (for the Prime Minister):
Today, each working parent of a Singaporean child can take up to six days of paid childcare leave if their child is under seven years old. In addition, almost half of all employees in Singapore are entitled to more than 14 days of annual leave. Taken together, these leave provisions are generally sufficient for parents to care for their young children.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we appreciate that there may be more instances when parents have to care for their children at home, such as when schools shift to home-based learning, or when a child is issued with a Leave of Absence.
A more sustainable solution is for employers to adopt progressive workplace practices, such as Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs), to better support parents. This is because such arrangements are better tailored to the needs and context of each workplace. The Government, together with unions and employers, have introduced various Tripartite Standards to promote progressive workplace practices. These cover FWAs, Unpaid Leave for Unexpected Care Needs, and Work-Life Harmony.
Our employers are generally supportive and FWAs have become more of a norm. The proportion of employers that provided some form of FWAs has increased from 85% in 2019 to 93% in 2020. With the launch of an Alliance for Action on Work-Life Harmony in February 2021, tripartite partners are building a community of stakeholders to promote the importance of work-life harmony, and support the implementation of good work-life practices. This includes providing resources to help companies to implement work-life practices that are suitable for their sector. We hope that more employers will come on board to implement such practices, and continually enhance them to enable employees to fulfil their aspirations and responsibilities both at home and in the workplace.
Parents also rely on their social support network to care for their children. Grandparents are an important source of such support. The Government recognises this and has introduced the Proximity Housing Grant (PHG) to help Singaporeans buy a resale flat, with or near their parents or married child, for mutual care and support. This provides couples with a grant of up to $30,000 for their purchase of a resale flat to live with their parents or married child, or up to $20,000 for a resale flat to live close to their parents or married child.
What we want is to build a Singapore that is Made for Families. This has to be a whole of society effort, and go beyond what individual parents, their family members, and employers do. Everyone can contribute to creating a safe and supportive environment for families. We will continue to work closely with our partners to achieve this.