Halimah again calls for mandatory eldercare leave

Halimah again calls for mandatory eldercare leave
Even if it's only for a few days, it will provide great relief and is a strong signal that the Government supports families in their effort to care for their elderly at home. - Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, on the possibility of legislating eldercare leave.

The elderly may have their healthcare worries addressed by the Pioneer Generation package, but it is equally crucial to look into the needs of their caregivers, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob said yesterday.

One way would be for the Government to "seriously consider" legislating eldercare leave.

"Even if it's only for a few days, it will provide great relief and is a strong signal that the Government supports families in their effort to care for their elderly at home," she said.

This would help especially those "sandwiched" between looking after young children and frail elderly parents, said Madam Halimah at the Ageless in Singapore conference at Pan Pacific Singapore attended by 260 people.

She first called for compulsory eldercare leave last year on the back of feedback from caregivers who did not have enough leave to care for their aged parents.

The need for eldercare leave is "a lot more urgent than we realise", with some having to quit their jobs to care for their loved ones full-time, she told reporters yesterday.

An NTUC survey released last year showed that 77 per cent of working caregivers do not have eldercare leave. Among the caregivers who quit work, 21 per cent did so to take care of an elderly family member full-time.

Singapore's largest employer, the civil service, has led the way in formalising eldercare leave. Since 2012, employees can use two out of 14 days of unrecorded leave, which includes marriage and exam leave, for eldercare.

But SIM University's head of gerontology Kalyani Mehta said eldercare leave applies only to those caring for parents and should be extended to other caregivers: "It should be made more flexible because in some families, the daughters-in-law or spouses are the ones doing the caring."

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