Paternity leave: Not all dads to benefit

SINGAPORE - A new survey has found that most employers here will not extend a new one-week paternity leave entitlement to all fathers under their employment.

All married fathers of Singaporean babies born on or after May 1 will be entitled to one week of paternity leave, paid for by the Government. This is to be taken within 16 weeks of the child's birth. Some other conditions apply.

According to a Mercer survey of 223 Singapore companies, nearly six in 10 companies (57 per cent) say they will merely adhere to the minimum requirement on paternity leave.

The survey found that nearly three in 10 said they would extend the benefits to all fathers, with the company bearing the additional costs. The rest either already meet the new requirements or will offer a week's leave on top of current policies.

One employer among the 57 per cent is car service and repair business Autosaver. Owing to manpower constraints, it said it can comply with only what has been legislated, and offer no more.

But it remains flexible, and allows fathers to use future leave in advance should they require more than a week. Autosaver's founder Bobby Ong, 43, said: "Before this move, we let our employees take long periods of leave to be with their wives. We are quite flexible. If those staff don't have leave, we allow them to offset their leave next year."

About 30 per cent of its staff is Singaporean.

The paternity leave move was announced as part of the Government's enhanced Marriage and Parenthood Package in January.

Another local company, manufacturing and distribution company Foh Foh, will comply with the one-week requirement for fathers of Singaporean babies only, its business development manager Andrew Chong, 32, said. The rest will get three days of paternity leave.

Just over half the companies planning to extend the benefits to all male employees, or 51 per cent, are in the banking industry. Banks such as UBS Singapore will see no change to its policy. All male staff have always been entitled to paternity leave.

Group chief operating officer of UBS Singapore and Asia emerging markets, Ms Teo Lay Sie, said: "UBS already provides five working days of paternity leave. Additionally, where the mother of the child has surrendered five working days of her maternity leave under the shared paternity leave guidelines, the father will be entitled to an additional five working days of paternity leave."

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