GOVERNMENT'S BABY BOOSTERS

Civil service granting paternity leave early

CIVIL servants will be among the first employees to benefit from new schemes to give parents paid time off.

From Jan 1 this year, the civil service will grant new paternity, shared parental, childcare and adoption leave ahead of May 1, when these schemes will become mandatory for all employers.

This is to help civil servants, who number nearly 77,000, balance their work and family commitments, said senior director in the Public Service Division Han Neng Hsiu.

"We recognise that working parents need more support to manage their work and family responsibilities," he said.

On Monday, the National Population and Talent Division announced the new leave measures as part of a policy package aimed at raising the birth rate here.

A civil servant with a Singaporean child born on or after Jan 1 this year can now get one week of paternity leave, up from the current three days. This can be taken within 12 months of the child's birth.

The Civil Service has chosen to offer paternity leave early. Employees whose employers do not choose likewise can receive this paternity leave only if their child is born on or after May 1.

A father can also share one week of his wife's maternity leave, if she qualifies for the sixteen weeks of government-paid maternity leave and agrees to it.

Parents with primary school-going children - aged seven to 12 - will now also get two days of childcare leave.

Those with at least one child below the age of 7 will continue to have six days of childcare leave a year.

Female civil servants are already eligible for four weeks of paid adoption leave.

When contacted, a Singapore National Employers Federation spokesman said it was too early to tell if other employers would offer these leave measures early.

If they decide to do so, employers will be reimbursed by the Government, capped at varying amounts.

charyong@sph.com.sg