More help needed for working parents

There has been much focus on providing maternity, paternity and infant-care leave for working parents (Extra leave gives parents leeway; March 6).

The leave, while generous, helps only for the initial months of the baby's arrival.

What working parents need extends beyond those initial months.

Childcare leave of six days is far from sufficient to cover those days when children need to rest at home when they fall sick.

The time pressures faced by working parents and the challenges involved in finding suitable childcare arrangements are not easy to handle.

Instead of focusing on leave, more help and programmes should be introduced to give these struggling parents a helping hand. Here are some suggestions:

•Encourage grandparents and family members to help out with childcare arrangements. For working parents who have their children cared for by grandparents, tax rebates or financial incentives for these parents should be considered to help with childcare costs. Currently, such rebates are reflected only in childcare centre subsidies, which these parents would not be able to enjoy.

•Encourage organisations to be more pro-family and to offer more flexible working arrangements and work-from-home options. This will enable parents to enjoy some work-life balance. Those who are offered understanding and flexibility by their employers will no doubt be more committed to their jobs and the companies they work for, leading to a win-win situation. As the adage "It takes a village to raise a child" goes, any small help given to working parents will go a long way.

Lim Wan Keng (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline 'More help needed for working parents'. Print Edition | Subscribe