Some companies offer longer paternity leave

Among the new fathers at Ikea who have benefited from its paternity leave are Mr Masree Mascomb (left), with his daughter Nur Maisarah, and Mr Dingson Balahadia, with his son Elijah Diego.
Among the new fathers at Ikea who have benefited from its paternity leave are Mr Masree Mascomb (left), with his daughter Nur Maisarah, and Mr Dingson Balahadia, with his son Elijah Diego.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Even as the amount of government-paid paternity leave was doubled to two weeks from this year, some companies have been offering beyond what is required.

Swedish furniture retailer Ikea offers four weeks of paid paternity leave to fathers of children born from this year, and 14 fathers have used it so far.

Insurer Prudential Singapore announced last November it would offer three weeks, then backdated the policy to take effect from January last year, and 34 fathers have used the enhanced paternity leave since then.

Social media giant Facebook, across all its offices worldwide, offers four months of paid parental leave to parents of newborns, regardless of the parents' gender. It announced this in November 2015 and said parents of children born that year could benefit too.

The companies told The Straits Times they extended their paternity leave policies to support the fathers among their staff and allow them to take on a more active role at home in caring for their children.

Prudential's chief human resources officer Sheela Parakkal said: "We believe employees who are more successful in integrating work and family life tend to be more motivated and productive at work. The intangible benefits that come with providing greater welfare to our staff outweigh the costs."

Ikea's South-east Asia human resources director Lydia Song said: "The absence of a dad on paternity leave is handled in the same way that the absence of someone on maternity leave or extended medical leave is handled.

"Team members talk it out, juggle schedules, find temporary replacements where they can and make it work. Sometimes, it may even provide an opportunity for a deputy to step up and develop leadership skills."

Mr Masree Mascomb, 38, who works in Ikea's logistics department and has a three-month-old daughter, took the first two weeks of paternity leave in succession, and then "spread out" the use of the remaining days, mainly to take his child for health check-ups.

"My paternity leave was important, especially in the early weeks when my wife and I were adjusting to our new life as parents. We took turns to take care of our girl and my wife could get some rest."

The daughter is his first child, and he said his mother-in-law also helps to take care of her.

"The paternity leave is precious time that I get to spend with my daughter, and my wife appreciates the extra support too."

Priscilla Goy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'Some companies offer longer paternity leave'. Print Edition | Subscribe