Josephine Teo visits S. Korea and Denmark

Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo.
Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo begins a week-long trip to South Korea and Denmark today to study how each country encourages marriage and parenthood.

Mrs Teo, who oversees population matters, will meet government officials in charge of population, employment and family issues.

In South Korea, her first stop, she will meet Minister of Health and Welfare Chung Chin Youb and Minister of Employment and Labour Lee Ki Kweon.

In Denmark, she will meet Danish Minister for Finance Claus Hjort Frederiksen and State Secretary for Foreign Policy Lone Dencker Wisborg.

During her trip, she will also visit childcare centres and businesses with family-friendly practices.

Like Singapore, both Denmark and South Korea are developed economies with low birth rates.

Singapore introduced paternity leave in 2013 and has since expanded the scheme to give new dads two weeks of paid paternity leave. However, not many make use of it, and the Government is on a push to encourage the take-up of paternity leave, especially in the private sector. In Singapore, about four in 10 fathers take paternity leave, and about 5 per cent take some shared parental leave.

Last week, Mrs Teo wrote in a Facebook post that while Denmark and South Korea have generous leave provisions for dads, take-up rates differ immensely. In Denmark, almost two in three fathers take some form of paternity leave and a quarter take shared parental leave. But less than 1 per cent of South Korean dads take either of these types of leave.

She said: "We will do more in Singapore to support daddies who wish to play an active role in raising their children. It may be one of the best gifts to working mums."

Mrs Teo will be accompanied by a delegation from the National Population and Talent Division and the National Trades Union Congress on her trip. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2016, with the headline 'Josephine Teo visits S. Korea and Denmark'. Print Edition | Subscribe