Extended paternity leave: Companies benefit, too

A 2013 survey revealed that 55 per cent of respondents said their work demands ate into their family time more than they liked ("Family ties - good; family time - not so good"; May 27, 2015).

Of the men surveyed, 58 per cent expressed this dissatisfaction.

With as many as six in 10 men unhappy with the interference between work and family life, the Government's consideration to make a second week of paternity leave compulsory is, therefore, a welcome move ("Dads may get more paternity leave"; Feb 6).

While it is true that smaller companies may be burdened in the short run by granting more paternity leave to the fathers in their employment, it is important to note that the strain on them will be even greater if these men are not given opportunities to be more involved fathers ("Extended paternity leave a burden for SMEs" by Mr Francis Cheng; last Wednesday, and "How smaller firms can cope with toll of longer paternity leave"; yesterday).

In fact, extended paternity leave actually benefits all companies in the long run.

Research shows that when fathers are more involved in their parenting, they actually become better employees.

Fathers who spend more time with their children experience higher satisfaction with their jobs and are less inclined to consider leaving.

Findings also reveal that when fathers are more emotionally involved with their children, this helps to buffer against their work-related stress and motivates them to be more serious about being productive at work.

It is especially needful for a father to help care for his child and to support his wife during the first few months of their child's birth. Some fathers have said that during this period, they are not productive at work anyway, because they want to be with their families instead.

With more working mothers today, the shared childcare load can make a difference to not just one employee, but two - and both their employers.

The business case for such work-life practices holds - a happy employee makes for an engaged employee, who contributes positively, and even beyond the call of duty, to his employer.

Companies that are concerned about staff retention and work productivity must resist the temptation to give in to what appears counter-intuitive. An additional week can make the difference - a happy father and husband is a better worker.

Raphael Zhang

Programme Specialist

Focus on the Family Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2016, with the headline 'Extended paternity leave: Companies benefit, too'. Print Edition | Subscribe