Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis: Mr Chairman, while eligible working parents of Singapore citizen children are entitled to six days of paid childcare leave a year, this only applies to children below the age of seven. Parents whose youngest child is between seven and 12 are only eligible for two days of extended childcare leave a year, while childcare leave is held constant, regardless of the number of children a couple has.
Given that there is a rising trend of dual-income families, I would like to ask if childcare leave can be extended on a per-child basis and up to the age of 12, as our Primary school-going children would see only a degree of care if they fell ill or simply to allow families to spend more time together.
With an increasingly ageing society, there is also the duty to take care of our parents. Many companies have started to offer eldercare leave as an employee value proposition and I would like to ask if this could be considered as a statutory form of leave.
The workplace has become more pro-family over the years, with more establishments offering various work-life initiatives, such as flexible work arrangements and non-statutory family-friendly paid leave. Flexible work arrangements are important, no doubt, but it is also equally important to give our workers the flexibility to take time off without taking no-pay leave if required to take care of their children or parents.
Mr Chairman, while it can be argued that increasing leave provisions could be difficult against the challenging economic climate today, the challenges of our low fertility rate and ageing population are no less critical. If we wish to uphold the ideal of family support and enable children to play their role as care-givers to elderly parents and for working parents to look after their young children while balancing other demands on their time, then the baseline level of parental care leave probably ought to be legislated to send the right signal to society on this matter.
Ministry of Manpower
2 March 2021