Dad given option of paid sabbatical

Mr Amos Lim (centre, in checked shirt), a people and organisation development specialist at Emergenetics Caelan & Sage, with his wife Brenna (in striped top) and daughter Celeste, three, at the airport earlier this year before they set off for Dublin
Mr Amos Lim (centre, in checked shirt), a people and organisation development specialist at Emergenetics Caelan & Sage, with his wife Breanna (in striped top) and daughter Celeste, three, at the airport earlier this year before they set off for Dublin. With them are Mr Terence Quek, chief executive officer of Emergenetics Asia Pacific (at left) and Mr Lim's colleagues. PHOTO: COURTESY OF AMOS LIM

Consultancy employee Amos Lim became a stay-at-home dad in Dublin for two months at the start of this year while enjoying the assurance of a steady income, thanks to his company's flexibility.

He was given paid sabbatical leave to accompany wife Breanna, 29, who was on an exchange programme there, so he could look after their three-year-old daughter Celeste.

"It was a different but enjoyable experience and I spent quality time with my family," he said.

Mr Lim, 30, had initially suggested telecommuting so he could continue to assist clients at his firm Emergenetics Caelan & Sage, where he is a people and organisation development specialist.

But Emergenetics Asia Pacific chief operating officer Deborah Chew said the firm realised that the time difference with Ireland could make it hard for him to coordinate with the team in Singapore.

"We didn't want to add further pressure to his having to figure out settling in a new place and taking care of his daughter, on top of juggling work demands with the time difference," she said.

"As we knew Amos to be a responsible staff member, we offered him the option of a paid sabbatical so that we could take the stressors off him. We knew that by doing so, he would return recharged and would be in a better position to perform."

But Mr Lim still woke up at about 6am nearly every day - just after lunch in Singapore - to connect with his team. He also worked when needed while his daughter was napping and before he went to bed.

Four dads among the company's 15 employees are on flexi-work. The schemes include compressed schedules, where staff can work longer hours on certain days and be free on others, and downtime, which allows staff to have periods off to focus on a project or develop new initiatives.

Leave benefits also cater to the staff member's different phases of life so an employee can have time off for childcare, eldercare or even to do community work.

 

Ms Chew said employees usually work with team members to ensure duties are covered when they are not going to be physically around.

"This allows everyone to have peace of mind to work from home, or see to personal matters if the need arises, while ensuring operations are not affected," she added.

Mr Lim said his teammates were very supportive while he was away: "As I'm also friends with them, we kept in touch anyway, but we didn't speak much about work."

Correction note: This article has been edited for accuracy.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2019, with the headline 'Dad given option of paid sabbatical'. Print Edition | Subscribe