Experts call for new incentives on flexible work, parental leave

Social specialists have urged the government to create new initiatives for businesses and HR to offer flexi-work arrangements and extra parental leave to staff

Social specialists have called on the government to improve the Marriage and Parenthood Package with added incentives that encourage businesses to adopt flexible work arrangements and increase their quotas for childcare and maternity leave.
This comes after the Senior Minister of State, Josephine Teo, said that more measures would be rolled out this year to help soon-to-be and new parents.
“The whole idea is that we want to have a culture in Singapore where family life is celebrated; where people not only set aside time but pay attention to it and they want to be able to support it,” she told reporters at a community event at Nanyang Polytechnic on Saturday (2 January).
“I think that’s what’s really needed – a whole culture of support for family life.”
Mrs Teo placed an emphasis on building community support for new parents especially working women.
“How do I make it possible for women to continue staying active in the workforce and at the same time be able to care for their children?”
Preliminary ideas about new schemes for families will be announced today (4 January), she said. HR should pay attention to any new initiatives which may affect employee policies in the near future.
National University of Singapore sociologist, Paulin Straughan, told TODAY that the government could encourage greater community support for parents by offering more incentives to businesses.
“If you ask young working parents, they would want to see ... not necessarily more leave, but certainly more flexible work options, where one can stay at home with more flexible working hours,” she said.
Since the typical take-up rate for flexible working hours is low, Dr Straughan suggested a quick solution would be to make flexi-work arrangements a statutory requirement. However, the government may be more willing to offer incentives in the form of grants, she added.
As it looks like 2015 was a second year of healthy birth rates for Singapore, Dr Straughan suggested the government “keep that momentum up” through these types of enhanced business incentives.
Related stories:
Labour participation in Singapore: are we getting better?
Double paternity leave for Singtel fathers
Reducing re-entry anxiety: how HR can help new parents

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