At least 4 firms double paternity leave for staff

At least four major home-grown companies have given their married male employees up to two weeks of paid paternity leave, in response to recent government calls.

The staff of Singtel and its wholly-owned subsidiary NCS, and those of banks DBS and OCBC, will enjoy the benefit, which has been backdated to Jan 1 this year.

OCBC's HR planning head, Ms Jacinta Low, said: "We recognise that fathers are increasingly playing bigger roles in parenting."

The doubled paternity leave, announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at this year's National Day Rally, applies to working fathers of newborn Singaporean children born from this Jan 1. It can be taken flexibly within 12 months from the birth of the child.

The Government will pay for the extra week of leave, which is now voluntary for employers.

Ms Aileen Tan, Singtel's group chief human resources officer, said of those on paternity leave: "While their absence would have some implications on business operations, we have made our assessments, which show that we will be able to manage our resources accordingly."

Of Singtel's and NCS' 10,000 employees in Singapore, about 100 so far will benefit from the scheme.

At DBS, about 120 out of over 9,000 staff will enjoy the same. OCBC has more than 6,000 employees, with close to 100 eligible to take the extra leave.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) here, however, remain less enthusiastic about the scheme. Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Kurt Wee said his members remain concerned that this will further affect employee productivity.

He said: "SMEs typically don't have as much spare operational buffer capacity as big companies do." He suggested that the Government allow fathers of newborn babies to defer their reservist training as this would ease the length of time male employees have to spend away from work.

First-time father-to-be Terence Ng, 28, said he has yet to hear from the Internet firm where he works if it will adopt the scheme.

But he hopes the firm will do so, allowing him to spend more time with his son, due in November, and let his wife have ample rest.

He said: "There'll be a slight impact on my work productivity, but it will be insignificant as I have control over my own time management at work."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2015, with the headline 'At least 4 firms double paternity leave for staff'. Print Edition | Subscribe