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Future changes to parental leave possible

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As the new maternity and paternity policies kick in next month, the Acting Minister for Social and Family Development has announced the new framework is not set in stone.

From May 1, working fathers will be entitled to one week of government-paid paternity leave, to be taken within 16 weeks of the child’s birth. Fathers will also be able to take a week’s leave out of the 16 weeks awarded to working mothers, Channel News Asia said.

However, while the changes were welcomed by the many, some are seeking flexibility in allowing parents to decide how to split the leave.

“If the couple agrees that the father should spend more time with and caring for the newborn, why not give a couple the liberty to split the wife’s 16 weeks of maternity leave, with the father taking on anything between one to eight or more weeks of shared parental leave? Let’s not be too prescriptive,” NMP Assistant Professor Eugene Tan asked Chan in Parliament.

Chan Chun Sing, the Acting Social and Family Development minister, responded by assuring the government will review the paternity and maternity structures when the need arises, and that it depended on “on how fast and how ready society is able to adjust”.

“I won’t rule out one day that the proportion may change between the maternity and paternity leave,” he said.

As of May 1, unwed single parents will also be entitled to childcare leave and unpaid infant care leave, and Chan said the government will continue to look at avenues to help children from more vulnerable families.

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