'Is it a missed opportunity?' Draft law gives more paid leave for fathers, but several MPs call for equality

'Is it a missed opportunity?' Draft law gives more paid leave for fathers, but several MPs call for equality

Good news for fathers. Government-paid paternity leave is set to double from two to four weeks next year, under a new proposed Bill.

This will be for fathers of Singaporean children born from Jan 1, 2024. 

Under the amendments to the Child Development Co-Savings Act (CDCA) tabled in parliament on Monday (Sept 18), government-paid paternity benefit will also be doubled to 28 days of an eligible father's income. 

This means that dads who do not qualify for paternity leave due to their employment arrangements may be eligible for this cash benefit in lieu of the paternity leave.

The proposed bill is a "greater effort to create a Singapore that values and supports family well-being", said Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling in her speech today to move the second reading of a Bill which had earlier been announced in this year's Budget.

She said that today, more than half of fathers in Singapore take paternity leave.

"We hope this increase will allow fathers to be more involved in caring for their children from the very beginning.

"Research has shown that children whose fathers are more involved have better outcomes in their physical, cognitive, and emotional development."

Paternity leave increase ‘very much welcomed’ 

But several members of parliament (MP) pointed out that there is still a disparity between the entitlements of working fathers and mothers.

Speaking in support of the Bill, MP Louis Ng (PAP-Nee Soon) said that the increase in paternity leave "is very much welcomed" and it sends a "strong signal about the important role fathers play".

"But the bill does not include many things that many of us are still fighting for," said Ng, who also called for the government to go further to eventually "equalise" parental leave.

Working mothers are currently entitled to up to 16 weeks of government-paid maternity leave.

Ng asked if the government would continue to work with its tripartite partners to review the scope for more parental leave provisions and come up with a roadmap to equalise parental leave.

"Equalising parental leave is a step forward towards reducing gender stereotypes. I hope the government will seriously consider this," he added.

'Is it a missed opportunity?'

Meanwhile, MP Mariam Jaafar (PAP-Sembawang) questioned if the increase in paternity leave from two to four weeks is "bold enough".

Under the amendments to the bill, employers can grant the additional two weeks of paternity leave on a voluntary basis and will be reimbursed by the government.

MP Jaafar said: "Is it a missed opportunity to signal the will to take firm steps by making it voluntary rather than mandatory?

"Is it a missed opportunity to signal an intent to narrow the gap between paternity and maternity leave?"

The MP asked what markers the government is looking at to move from a voluntary to mandatory increase in paternity leave.

In her speech in support of the Bill, MP He Ting Ru (WP-Sengkang) said it is important to publicly track the take-up rate of paternity leave and look into whether and why fathers do not take their full entitlement.

She added that the government has a responsibility to actively ensure that employers are not punishing fathers for taking up parental leave entitlement schemes.

Besides the increase in paternity leave, other key amendments to the Bill include:

  • Doubling the limits for the government's payment to eligible self-employed fathers for their loss of income when they stop work to care for their children.
  • Unpaid infant care leave, which can be taken in a child's first two years, will also be doubled from six to 12 days per parent per year.

ALSO READ: Dads, it's time to take paternity leave


This website is best viewed using the latest versions of web browsers.