Singtel, NCS and DBS give up to two weeks' paid paternity leave, in response to Government calls

Employees of Singtel and its wholly-owned subsidiary NCS will get up to two weeks of paid paternity leave.
Employees of Singtel and its wholly-owned subsidiary NCS will get up to two weeks of paid paternity leave. PHOTO: THOMAS WONG

SINGAPORE - At least three homegrown companies have given their married male employees up to two weeks of paid paternity leave, in response to recent Government calls for extended paternity leave for working fathers of newborn Singaporean children.

The staff of Singtel and its wholly-owned subsidiary NCS as well as that of DBS Bank will enjoy the benefit, which has been backdated to Jan 1 this year.

Said Ms Aileen Tan, Singtel's group chief human resources officer: "Singtel has always been pro-family and we are pleased to deepen our commitment by including the enhanced paternity scheme in our family-friendly initiatives.

"For our employees to bring their best to work, we appreciate that their needs at home should also be well taken care of."

The enhanced paternity leave will take retrospective effect from Jan 1 this year and can be taken flexibly within 12 months from the birth of the staff's child. This Government-led initiative is currently voluntary for employers.

Ms Tan added: "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."

Said DBS group head of rewards Cheong Meng Foong: "At DBS, people are our most important resource and we have always sought to support them in various ways. The enhanced paternity leave scheme will be a welcome addition to our suite of family-friendly programmes, aimed at promoting work-life balance for our staff.

"We hope that through these, employees will have more flexibility to better balance their family needs and careers."

Apart from increased paternity leave, the bank already offers various employee benefits aimed at allowing staff to spend more time with their families and to pursue their interests.

For example, the bank's flexible working arrangements enable employees to choose working hours that best meet their individual needs and provide them with the option of working from home. On Fridays, staff can end work at 5pm and they are also entitled to a half-day birthday leave during their birthday month.

Over the years, DBS Bank and the DBS Staff Union (DBSSU) have worked closely together to enhance staff benefits and to build a better workplace.

President of DBSSU Nora Kang said: "We hope this will encourage more companies to step up in support of national efforts to strengthen family-friendly work environments."

The enhanced paternity leave is part of a slew of measures announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally to encourage couples to have children. The Government will pay for the extra week of leave.

Another government initiative that Singtel fully supports is the call to raise the re-employment age from 65 to 67. Currently, Singtel has eight staff who are aged 67 and older in its employ. It also re-employs 70 to 80 per cent of its staff when they turn 62.

Said Ms Tan: "Many of our staff feel 62 is too early to stop work. Our older colleagues have a wealth of experience that is hard to come by, and we constantly provide retraining to help them stay relevant.

"If they are healthy, productive and want to keep contributing, we are more than happy to have them in our team."