Firms back longer paternity leave for dads

 Forex trader Terence Tan with his 11-month-old son Darius.
Forex trader Terence Tan with his 11-month-old son Darius.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Companies said they support the new pro-family law that will double the paternity leave for fathers to two weeks, starting from January next year.

While it will be a burden on many small and medium-sized enterprises, the larger businesses said the extra week is manageable.

Said Mr Max Loh, Asean and Singapore managing partner of professional services company EY: "How different is it from reservist duties where the men get called away for three to four weeks? You just have to deal with it."

Bigger companies like United Overseas Bank already give fathers two weeks of paternity leave. The bank introduced it last year.

But small firms, while supportive of families, will find it an uphill task, said Mr Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises: "We have to be sensitive to their manpower and cost predicaments. Companies in Singapore are not going through a very good time at this point."

Businesses were also in favour of unwed mothers getting 16 weeks of maternity, equal to that of married mothers. Mr Ricardo Sentosa, founder of start-up Veneurific, said it was "only fair" they get it while start-up MyDoc viewed it as "an upgrade to our team's benefits".

Added Mr Wee: "Businesses should not be discriminatory about whether a mother is wed or not."

Kok Xing Hui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'Firms back longer paternity leave for dads'. Subscribe