Parliamentary reply by Minister Indranee Rajah on Socio Economic Status and Parental Leave
FOURTEENTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
MONDAY, 1 AUGUST 2022
Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang:
To ask the Prime Minister (a) whether there is a correlation between a parent’s social economic status and the taking of maternity and paternity leave respectively; and (b) if the Ministry is not aware of any such correlation, whether it will conduct a study.
Ms Indranee Rajah (for the Prime Minister):
We have not studied the correlation between parents’ socioeconomic status and their maternity and paternity leave utilisation. Generally, parental leave utilisation may be affected by factors such as nature of the job, and workplace norms and practices.
For example, even as employers are required by law to provide maternity and paternity leave, parents in jobs that require physical presence such as those in frontline roles, or whose income is dependent on the number of hours clocked at work, may find it more difficult to tap on these leave provisions. Our focus group discussions and interviews with parents have reflected that workplace support is key across all types of jobs and companies. Where supervisors are supportive and colleagues are willing to support covering arrangements, parents are more likely to take paternity or maternity leave. Therefore, we encourage parents to discuss their paternity or maternity leave plans with their employers early so that employers can start planning for covering work arrangements. At the same time, we also encourage employers to adopt progressive human resource practices and design flexible solutions which balance support for both employees and business needs, such as allowing parents to take the leave over different days, instead of over one continuous period, within their child’s first year.
A whole-of-society effort is needed for parents to feel supported in taking time away from work to care for, and bond with their newborns. We will continue to work with our stakeholders to encourage companies to build a more supportive workplace culture, to enable parents to better benefit from our parental leave schemes.