More fathers taking up paid leave benefits

Dennis Ng and his wife Nguyen Thi Dieu Hien with their son Jayden Ng, seven months, at their house on Jul 16, 2013. More than 13,000 fathers have used paid paternity leave since the benefit was introduced in May last year as part of the enhanced Marr
Dennis Ng and his wife Nguyen Thi Dieu Hien with their son Jayden Ng, seven months, at their house on Jul 16, 2013. More than 13,000 fathers have used paid paternity leave since the benefit was introduced in May last year as part of the enhanced Marriage and Parenthood Package. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Baby Cayden, who was born at midnight on Aug 9, 2013 at Mount Alvernia Hospital, and his parents. More than 13,000 fathers have used paid paternity leave since the benefit was introduced in May last year as part of the enhanced Marriage and Parenthoo
Baby Cayden, who was born at midnight on Aug 9, 2013 at Mount Alvernia Hospital, and his parents. More than 13,000 fathers have used paid paternity leave since the benefit was introduced in May last year as part of the enhanced Marriage and Parenthood Package. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More than 13,000 fathers have used government-paid paternity leave in the past year, the National Population and Talent Division said on Thursday.

The number has risen steadily since the benefit was introduced in May last year as part of the enhanced Marriage and Parenthood Package. Married citizen fathers are entitled to one week of paternity leave.

On Wednesday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu released figures on take-up rates of childcare leave. She noted that the gap between men's and women's take-up rates for this has narrowed in the past five years. It was 10 percentage points in 2013, down from 13 percentage points in 2009.

"It shows that the scheme is gaining popularity, there's more awareness, also men are stepping forward more, perhaps playing a greater role in the care of the children," said Ms Fu. She was speaking to the media after a visit to law firm Rajah and Tann where she heard about its work-life integration policies.

These practices, such as flexible additional paternity leave of three days, work from home arrangements and secondments to overseas offices have helped to keep its attrition rate to around 1.5 per cent last year, below the national average of 2 per cent, said partner Rebecca Chew.

"We're thinking of employees and seeing them grow with the firm for the next 10 years. We know that in 10 years anything can happen... and the workplace must be flexible enough to respond to the challenges of the employee," said Ms Chew.

She added that the moves have made business sense for the firm. "We've been able to retain good lawyers, who would otherwise have left the workforce, but they are still with us and they have done very well for themselves."