updated 20 Jul 2013, 00:34
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Tue, Aug 17, 2010
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More study needed before converting maternity to parental leave

Fathers must be prepared to take on a larger role in child-caring, and these obligations must be recognized both at home and the workplace, but the government cannot legislate that men should take a larger role in child-rearing. This was the message from  Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports when he responded to a question that was put up by Dr Lam Pin Min yesterday.

Dr Lam asked if the minister would consider allowing the fourth month of paid maternity leave to be converted to parental leave, to allow fathers to consume the leave entitlement in the spirit of encouraging shared parental responsibility.

Dr Balakrishnan pointed out that spouses must work out the optimal arrangements and division of responsibilities for their own families, but that the government cannot pass a law to mandate that the men should help out more at home.

Social norms will also need to evolve. such that fathers are more willing to do more in a child-caring role, before the Government will consider legislating additional leave entitlements for working fathers. He also added that of such a change on employers, the employability of workers, and the needs of mothers need to be studied.

In the meantime, fathers of young children have access to six  days of paid childcare leave and six days of unpaid infant care leave which is provided for in the legislation. Working fathers can also make arrangements with their employers, who may provide paternity leave on a voluntary basis, or utilise their annual leave or agree on alternative work arrangements with their employers, such as part-time work or no-pay leave, to enable them to look after their children.

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