IKEA Singapore employees get 4-week paternity leave, even its part-time staff

IKEA Singapore employees get 4-week paternity leave, even its part-time staff
IKEA Alexandra co-worker Masree Mascom is taking an active role in caring for his baby girl, Nur Maisarah.
PHOTO: IKEA Singapore

Help is always welcomed around the house, especially with the arrival of a newborn.

Just last month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong encouraged more Singaporeans to have children when he attended a community event in Teck Ghee

The hope for Singaporeans to have more kids has long been part of a national conversation about the nation's ageing population.

And it seems like furniture giant IKEA Singapore is showing strong support for this narrative as it was recently reported that the company is offering four weeks of paid paternity leave to all its employees.

Previously, all new dads from the company were granted one week of paid paternity leave.

HR director for IKEA Southeast Asia Lydia Song told AsiaOne in an e-mail interview: "We decided it was time we align our paternity leave benefits in all markets where we operate, so that we provide fair terms to every co-worker within Ikea Southeast Asia.

"As always, we look at our co-worker needs and benefits and adjust step by step, year by year. This offer of four weeks paid leave is a big step, and it's part of a reward package that sets us apart from other retailers in the region."

Not only does this benefit - which has been in effect since Jan 1 this year - extend to all employees of IKEA Singapore, contract staff as well as part-timers are included too, Song added.

Dingson Presbitero Balahadia, 36, welcomed his first child last month and said the four-week paid paternity leave was "really great" - not just for him, but for his wife as well.

"The first few weeks were quite difficult for us in terms of adjusting. I was very glad that I got to be there for my wife in terms of physical and emotional support, and I think she really felt the difference," Balahadia said in an e-mail interview.

The visual merchandiser at the IKEA Alexandra outlet said the extra two weeks away from work gave him a "great chance to spend time with his child and create a special bond".

"I know that my wife is very grateful that I had the flexibility to be able to be there for her as well," the new dad shared.

According to Song, IKEA Southeast Asia has seen 27 co-workers in the region claim this benefit, with 14 coming from Singapore.

She said: "Our co-workers have been very enthusiastic about their time at home. Some employees have taken two weeks in succession, and then saved the rest to be claimed over the following weeks.

"They're happy that this has allowed them more time to be at home, but also the flexibility in which they can take it."

The company is firmly behind the notion that fathers should be given the opportunity to stay at home during the critical first month of a baby. It has even teamed up with the Embassy of Sweden in Singapore to organise a photo contest and an exhibit to raise awareness of the role dads can play at home with their young ones.

"We are focused on families - both in our business and in our workplaces. We embrace our Swedish roots and values - and that includes gender equality," Song shared.

"So we are really pleased to be able to take this step and enable dads to do their part at home."

As for Balahadia, he plans to expand his brood with at least one more child.

And he said the longer paternity leave offered by IKEA Singapore has definitely made it easier for him and his wife to cope, even though they had already planned to have more kids before the company's paternity leave offer.

He believes in the importance of "sharing equal responsibility" in raising his child together with his wife.

ssandrea@sph.com.sg

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