SINGAPORE - Fathers are set to get more time off from work to look after their newborns, under a slew of new measures announced on Wednesday to support young parents.
Those whose babies are born from Jan 1, 2017, will get two weeks of paid paternity leave.
Currently, only one week of paternity leave is compulsory, while companies offer a second week on a voluntary basis.
With the change, the Government will pay for the extra week of compulsory paternity leave, capped at $2,500 per week including Central Provident Fund contributions.
In addition, working mothers will be able to share up to four weeks of their paid maternity leave with their husbands from July 2017. They can now share only one out of 16 weeks they get.
Altogether, working fathers can get up to eight weeks off work within their baby's first year. This includes one week each of childcare and unpaid infant care leave they are already eligible for。
Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo, announcing these measures on Wednesday at the debate on the spending plans of the Prime Minister's Office, said: "Nothing quite compares to the joy of holding your own child... Fathers feel these emotions as strongly as mothers do."
These measures to get fathers more involved in raising their children come as the Government explores new ways to encourage young couples to have babies.
Mrs Teo, who oversees population matters, acknowledged that businesses may be concerned about the extra leave affecting their manpower needs. But she said the announcements were made in advance - at least eight months before changes take effect - so that employers will have time to plan their staffing schedules.
To qualify for the paternity leave and shared parental leave, fathers must be married to the child's mother, and the child must be a Singapore citizen.
Adoptive mothers will also get 12 weeks of paid leave to look after their adopted child, up from the current four weeks. The adopted child must be below 12 months of age, adopted on or after July 1, 2017, and a Singapore citizen, to qualify.