Halimah Yacob reiterates call to legislate eldercare leave for workers

The Government should seriously consider legislating eldercare leave for workers, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob has again said. -- BH FILE PHOTO: M.O. SALLEH 
The Government should seriously consider legislating eldercare leave for workers, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob has again said. -- BH FILE PHOTO: M.O. SALLEH 

The Government should seriously consider legislating eldercare leave for workers, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob has again said.

This would help especially those who are struggling to look after both their children and elderly parents and would also signal the Government's support for families.

Speaking at a conference on Wednesday to discuss ageing issues, Madam Halimah said: "I would like to make this call again and I hope that the Government will seriously consider legislating eldercare leave. Even if it's only for a few days, it will provide great relief and is a strong signal that the Government supports families in their effort to care for their elderly at home."

Madam Halimah first called for eldercare leave to be made compulsory last year after receiving feedback from caregivers who said they did not have enough leave to provide the care that their elderly parents needed.

"Some workers face major challenges as they are sandwiched between caring for their children and frail elderly," she noted.

"The government has done a lot for those caring for children through the childcare leave and maternity leave benefits, but workers caring for their parents need support as well," she added.

Giving the opening address at the Ageless in Singapore conference at Pan Pacific Hotel, Madam Halimah spoke about how more people are concerned about ageing today.

"In the earlier years, the concerns were largely municipal... however, there is a noticeable shift in the kind of issues raised and concern over ageing has assumed greater priority," she said.

Today, one in 12 Singaporeans is above the age of 65 but in 2030, the number will rise to one in five.

The conference was attended by some 260 local and international participants. It is part of a Ageless in Singapore movement that champions for a more conducive environment for an ageing population.

Madam Halimah said an important aspect of building an "ageless society" is ridding workplaces of ageism so that the elderly can remain independent by working as long as they wish.

She also encouraged seniors to volunteer more so that their experience and skills can be tapped on to benefit others.

The latest data released by the National Volunteer and Philantrophy Centre last year showed that only 17 per cent of the elderly do volunteer work, compared to 43 per cent for those aged between 15 and 24.