Forum: More support available to help parents in their work and family life

We thank Ms Elizabeth Quek for sharing her challenges as a working mother with an infant (Choice between motherhood and career shouldn't have to be so hard, April 22), and Ms Yeo Miu Ean for her thoughts on flexible work arrangements (FWAs) (Flexi-work arrangements can bring about synergy between both worlds, April 28).

These are important issues. The Government has, over the years, steadily increased the support for working parents, and will continue to review what additional meaningful support can be provided. Recent initiatives include enhancing access to affordable infant care and childcare, encouraging companies to provide FWAs and increasing parental leave.

We have made centre-based infant care more accessible and affordable. The number of full-day infant care places has increased by more than 65 per cent since 2015 to around 10,500 places today, and we are developing around 10,000 more full-day infant care and childcare places in new HDB developments by 2023.

Last year, we increased the subsidy amounts and raised the household income ceiling for the additional subsidy. With these enhancements, families may receive up to $1,310 in monthly subsidies, and pay as low as $54 a month for full-day infant care services.

We agree that FWAs can help parents balance their work and childcare responsibilities more effectively. Last year, 93 per cent of companies offered some form of FWAs, whether flexi-place, flexi-time or flexi-load. We encourage employers and employees to establish arrangements that best suit their needs.

Together with our tripartite partners, we will continue to encourage employers to entrench FWAs, through efforts like the Tripartite Standard on FWAs, the newly launched Tripartite Standard on Work-Life Harmony, developing implementation guides to help employers offer FWAs, and growing a community of Work-Life Ambassadors.

To encourage sharing of parental responsibilities, the Government has enhanced leave provisions for fathers. Today, fathers have two weeks of paternity leave, and up to six weeks of shared parental leave, paid childcare leave and unpaid infant care leave, in their child's first year. However, only about five in 10 fathers used any of their paternity leave. We urge more fathers to use their leave, and employers to support them.

More information on existing support measures are at go.gov.sg/mpbooklet

To understand how we can better support working parents, we have launched the conversations on "Building a Singapore that is Made for Families" and look forward to participants' thoughts and suggestions. Registration is open at go.gov.sg/families-convo

Fereen Liew (Dr)

Director

Marriage and Parenthood Directorate

National Population and Talent Division

Strategy Group

Prime Minister's Office