Should MOM legislate eldercare leave?

Employees have been struggling to handle both work and familial duties

Should MOM legislate eldercare leave?

A politician in Singapore has once again raised the question: Will the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) introduce mandatory caregiver leave to employees with elderly relatives?

MOM’s stance remains unchanged on the issue, with Minister Josephine Teo insisting that it “would be more sustainable” to offer flexibility for caregivers.

“Parent care leave can be useful to take care of elderly for specific bouts of illness, but what would be more sustainable and flexible for caregivers, especially those with elderly parents with longer term needs, would be flexible work arrangements,” Teo responded in parliament.

The response was based off feedback in a 2018 Ministry of Health survey, which found that employees considered flexibility more important than paid eldercare leave.

Read more: Is HR obligated to offer paid eldercare leave?

However, with working from home currently the norm in Singapore, some employees have highlighted the double-edged sword around flexi-work arrangements.

In a separate dialogue session, Gan Siow Huang, minister of state for manpower and education, said that flexi-work has given “new opportunities” for caregivers. Despite this, it has brought “new pressure points”.

“While you work from home and have access to family support, some employees have also given feedback that it’s actually quite stressful doing two things at once,” she said during the panel discussion.

“This calls for clearer boundaries between work, family and personal time.”

Gan was speaking at a regular session held by the Singapore National Employers Federation and NTUC’s Women and Family Unit, reported The Straits Times. The government has thus promised to monitor the risks of flexi-work arrangements.

Read more: Five HR concerns for Singapore’s remote workers

For years, the issue of legislation has been met with resistance, with officials highlighting the benefits of flexi-work as well as TAFEP’s soft approach of encouraging employers to take up “progressive” practices.

One such guideline involves offering staff up to two weeks of unpaid leave per year – but only for the caring of hospitalised family members. Employers have also been urged to be understanding and fast-track leave requests, both paid and unpaid, when staff experience these stressful periods.

Public service agencies do, however, offer the benefit. They currently provide employees with two days of paid parent care leave per year.

Recent articles & video

International Women’s Day 2021: ‘We’re at a critical point for gender diversity’

IWD 2021: Why are women underrepresented in the C-suite?

Is your home office too distracting? Tips on how to fix your space

National security workers vote to strike over pay

Most Read Articles

IWD 2021: How to overcome the STEM gender gap

Your L&D initiatives may be missing this vital element

Twitch chief people officer: ‘Don’t ever call me boss’