Forum: Examine why some men are not taking paternity leave

While I am heartened that Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said about 84 per cent of eligible fathers in the public sector take their paternity leave, which is higher than the national rate of 53 per cent, there is still more to be done (8 in 10 public sector dads take paternity leave, Feb 28).

The focus should now be on those in the public sector who did not take up paternity leave, and more so the 47 per cent of fathers in the country who did not do so.

The Government needs to examine the reasons some fathers do not take paternity leave.

Were they unwilling or unable to? Is taking paternity leave frowned upon? What can we do to have a mindset shift?

It is also possible that men find it less taxing being at work than taking care of the baby at home.

Do we then need to change attitudes, or continue perpetuating gender norms, such as "mother knows best" and fathers bring home the bacon?

I am also concerned if men are unable to take paternity leave due to operational needs at work or superiors discouraging them from taking it.

Other than exceptional circumstances, an organisation has the responsibility to have manpower to cover a worker when he is away. After all, a father is entitled to utilise his paternity leave, and we should not convey the message that family is less of a priority in life.

Since there are fathers not taking paternity leave due to work commitments, shouldn't the Government extend the take-up period to 24 months and give them more time to use it?

Being there and taking care of a child between one and two years old is also important.

Sean Lim Wei Xin

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