SINGAPORE - About 84 per cent of eligible fathers in the public sector take their paternity leave, higher than the national rate of 53 per cent, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo in Parliament on Thursday (Feb 27).
The public sector utilisation rate is even higher than those in Nordic countries, which are well-known for their family-friendly policies and strong support for parenthood, Mrs Teo added.
She did not elaborate on the higher rate in the public service, but noted that the 53 per cent utilisation rate across all sectors is a sign that Singapore is making very good progress.
The minister was responding to Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC), who asked whether Singapore can learn from countries like Denmark and Britain to increase the take-up rate of paternity leave here.
Mrs Teo said that Denmark's paternity leave utilisation was about 70 per cent, and she was told by her Danish counterpart that "there are certain sectors where it is just not considered at the workplace to be very acceptable for the men to go on paternity leave".
Mr Ng had also asked whether the Government would consider increasing the period during which the two weeks of government-paid paternity leave could be taken from within 12 months of childbirth to within 24 months.
Responding to this, Mrs Teo said that the Government has no plans to extend the period as the leave is meant to support working fathers in caring for their infants when they are younger and in need of care. Maternity leave similarly has to be used within 12 months of childbirth, she added.
After a child turns one, each parent can utilise six days of unpaid infant care leave each year until the child is two, on top of six days of paid infant care leave that parents can take yearly up till the child turns seven, she noted.
The Government also encourages employers to provide up to four weeks of unpaid leave if employees have children below two years old who need more care, such as for medical conditions.
"The Government will continue to work with employers to better support parents in managing their work and family responsibilities. This includes promoting the adoption of flexible work arrangements and encouraging more family-friendly practices at workplaces," said Mrs Teo.