Finding a balance for family care leave is a growing concern with Singapore’s ageing population, but mandating further leave requirements could have a negative impact on businesses, said the Senior Minister of Manpower in Parliament on Tuesday.
Dr Amy Khor was answering a questions from MP David Ong, who asked whether the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) would consider statutory paid caregiver leave to “ease our workers’ burden of caring for their family members”.
He said many working Singaporeans are required to perform the role of secondary caregiver to ailing parents, siblings or children who are not mobile.
Khor said the MOM recognises it is important to support working Singapores who need help with care, as the country’s population rapidly ages and family sizes decrease.
“At the same time, we are mindful that mandating more family care leave can have an impact on business operations,” she said.
“Our approach is to work with our tripartite partners to promote work-life practices, including providing family care leave beyond the statutory requirements and flexible work arrangements.”
She cited a survey by MOM which found the number of employers providing parental care or parental sick leave has almost tripled from 6% in 2008 to 17% in 2014. The proportion of employers providing at least one form of flexible work arrangement has also gone up from 28% in 2008 to 47% in 2014.
Additionally, almost seven in 10 employers (69%) provided unplanned time-off for their employees to attend to personal matters last year.
“Employers are setting new industry norms, and they recognise that such practices help to attract and retain talent,” she said, adding the civil service – the largest employer in Singapore – provides two days of annual parent-care leave as a progressive employment practice.
The government also introduced a series of family-related leave schemes in May 2013 as part of the Marriage and Parenthood Package, and “businesses are still adjusting and adapting to some of these leave requirements”.
“Let us monitor the impact of these changes before we consider legislating more family care leave.”