Extend paternity leave

Posed photo of a man holding the hands of his two-month-old son.
Posed photo of a man holding the hands of his two-month-old son.PHOTO: ST FILE

Recent suggestions in Parliament about extending childcare leave and introducing more family-centric policies struck a chord with me.

As a young father, I am actively involved in the care and upbringing of my infant son - whether it's reading and playing with him, changing his diapers, or taking him to and from daycare.

However, there seems to be a disconnect in government policy between what young fathers in Singapore experience, and what is provided for in official policy.

Today, mothers enjoy up to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave while fathers get only two. This stands in stark contrast to an increasing number of companies where equal or shared parental leave is granted. For example, Facebook grants all its employees four months' paid parental leave.

Caring for one's child in the early years is a crucial process for getting acclimatised to parenthood, and in forging a strong long-term parent-child relationship.

In addition to extending the duration of paternity leave, I would like to suggest too that additional childcare leave be granted to fathers, up from the current six days per year, so caregiving responsibilities can be more evenly balanced between both parents.

Kelvin Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2019, with the headline 'Extend paternity leave'. Print Edition | Subscribe