Private sector must embrace family-friendly practices

While it is understandable that companies in the private sector may have difficulties providing further paternity leave in the short run, the Government must continue to make all efforts to get them on board in adopting family-friendly measures (Private sector unlikely to increase leave for infant care; March 4).

This is necessary, since they employ a substantial proportion of the workforce. Their cooperation will be instrumental to achieving our goal of raising the birth rate.

The sad reality is that some employees encounter difficulties in obtaining their rights.

There have been well-documented cases in Singapore of pregnant women who were forced to resign to avoidbeing sacked.

This is unacceptable, and further, tougher action must be taken to bring these unscrupulous employers in line.

On the other side of the coin, the Government can offer further incentives to employers who embrace family-friendly measures, especially those who go above and beyond the lawful requirements.

For example, family-friendly practices can be made a key factor of assessment in awarding government contracts or getting involved in government projects. When pro-family practices affect the bottom line, the private sector will be incentivised to follow through with them.

Improving our birth rate is an important goal for Singapore's survival.

We must spare no effort to get the private sector to embrace family-friendly policies and initiatives.

This is the only way we will convince parents that our society will support their childbearing journey every step of the way.

Lionel Loi Zhi Rui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2017, with the headline 'Private sector must embrace family-friendly practices'. Print Edition | Subscribe