Govt reviewing Marriage and Parenthood package
HAVE YOUR SAY: What’s needed to get Singaporeans to get married earlier and have more children?
SINGAPORE: The government is reviewing the Marriage and Parenthood package to encourage Singaporeans to get married earlier and have more children.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said this as he urged Singaporeans to work hand in hand to overcome two key challenges that Singapore faces — having a sustainable population and maintaining the country’s economic vitality.
Mr Teo, who also oversees the country’s population planning policies, said: "We intend to put out a White Paper at the end of this year so that we can bring Singaporeans together to discuss this issue, to understand what the implications are and to come together to see what are the possible ways forward which will give us a sustainable population, a cohesive population and a population that will ensure our vitality into the future."
The second challenge is the economy, said Mr Teo at the Pasir Ris—Punggol GRC’s National Day Dinner on Sunday.
The world economy is still weak, but with more jobs created in Singapore in the second quarter of this year, overall unemployment remains low at 2 per cent.
The government is also working to help Singaporeans stay employed and ensure that wages keep pace.
Mr Teo said about 400,000 Singaporeans benefit from the Workfare Income Supplement of up to $2,800 a year.
The scheme helps to top up the wages of low—income workers by up to 25 per cent.
The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) also promotes upskilling and retraining to help Singaporeans stay in or find jobs.
This year, the government introduced the GST Voucher to help the lower—income groups offset the Goods and Services Tax. The GST Voucher includes cash, utilities rebates and Medisave top—ups.
Mr Teo said that in the coming months, the government will be engaging Singaporeans in a number of major consultations.
He said: "I encourage you to share your views so that we can build the future. What kind of Singapore do we want? What hopes you have for yourself and your children? I believe with such a conversation, we can build a closer society, focus our energies and achieve this vision which will give a better life for all of us.
"The alternative is we are a divided country, we spend all our time being envious of each other, we are unable to put our energies together, we become a divided society."
Mr Teo urged all Singaporeans to work hand in hand with determination and tenacity to create a better future.
YOUR SAY: What's needed to get Singaporeans to get married earlier and have more children? Sign in with your Windows Live ID and post your comments below.
defintely its the aftercare issue that need to be improved.... more childcare, baby bonus, edu sudsidies, utilities rebates, to help relieve parents...everything had gone up but salary is not increasing, its hard to raise a child with proper environment even for both parents to be working.
MORE CHILDCARE SUBSIDIES!! even with 4k household income sending THREE kids to childcare takes MORE THAN HALF OF IT. so whats left for mummies & daddies??
CFAC? cant even apply cos 4k exceeded criteria! but with 3kids all at the same time? they dont even bother with going case-to-case on this!
CAR SUBSIDIES for families with small kids like what you do for maids taking care of kids..
you have BABY BONUS for startup,
CDA for raising up..
BUT NONE FOR MAINTENANCE cos thats the toughest with the rising living cost.
Its HIGH time to intervene cos if not now.. we won't be producing 'quality' babies..
First of all, we need to educate the employers about this ! I remember when i was pregnant some 4 years ago, my boss's reply to me was: "WHAT! you are pregnant?" i should have employed a 40+50 year old to take your position, she has lesser chances of getting pregnant!
And she advice me that i should just go for 2 months maternity as she cant guarantee my job if i go for too long!
How to have more kids with employers who are not for it ??
What is much needed is a longer paternity leave. 3 days is just not enough! A few suggestions - 1) Dad's could get as much as 1 month paid paternity leave to be taken at one go, spread over 2 months if he works half-day; or if that is too much of a stretch, 2) the government could consider allowing dads to take at least 2 weeks paternity leave up front and then the rest spread over the next 6 years before the child goes to Primary 1.
Something else that is much needed and should start with the civil service as an example to the other employers, is for workers to work from home! Saving time lost (and stress) in traveling to work, easing congestion on public transport, increasing productivity and improving motivation. We already have the technological infrastructure for this to happen. All the staff needs is a laptop / PC, a phone and internet connection. Which the company could provide.
This will also mean that there is less of a need to have large office buildings (saving company rent) as staff need only be required to come in to the office for meetings. Of course, some types of professions might not allow for this, e.g., hospital staff, customer service staff or teaching staff cannot work from home, but there could be other job-rotation solutions to address this. I am sure that many staff in supporting roles could easily work from home and even more so for those who work on a project basis.
Trust I think is a big issue. Staff should be measured strictly based on their performance and not their attendance at the office. Perception needs to change. If the employer can trust the staff enough to produce the required work from home, they can approve them to work from home. There should also not be a cut in pay, just because they are working from home, because the workload is not reduced and the hours are not reduced. They are just more mobile, so they can care for their younger children and at the same time still meet the needs of the employer. This should be a choice for all eligible employees to make.
The suggestion that maternity leave should be extended to 6 months could also be considered. There are many ways to provide this. Currently it is 4 months. If the extension of the extra 2 months could be taken at half day or as a 3 or 4-day work week, that might work as well.
Peoples' mindsets, particularly employers', really need to change as our society and their needs are changing.
And when I wrote to HDB, they refused to reply until I got my MP, Mr Yeo to help which eventually they replied (in April 2011) saying that they have considered my appeal but regret that they are unable to accede to it without going through the usual sales procedures, to be fair to all other flat applicants.
I am already turning 31 years of age this coming September and I have yet to have a home of my own. Taking into consideration that the flat will be only available in 3 years' time, when I'm 34 years of age, is only when I can start a family and plan for kids.
The government has repeatedly encourage families to have more kids but looking at the situation, may I ask how is that possible?
To have early marriage and children, may I suggest the government look into housing, cost of living and cost of bringing up children. Most graduates start working at the age of 25 or more for Singaporean guys. By the time he accumulate enough money in cash and CPF to buy a HDB flat, he is already 30 or older. Wedding celebration cost aside. We all knows a HDB flat cost several hundred thousand $ (subsidised!!!!) and the government kept saying affordable. This is only when the young couple takes up a 25-30 years loan, paying your flat almost the entire working life. There are many that lose their jobs (sometime between the entire working life) and ending up with much financial difficulties. The cost of living and bringing up a child is so pressurizing in today's Singapore society. I don't think necessary for me to elaborate.
Next, the problem of a working mother, maid cost, child education and many more..... Though our government had many scheme to help young parents, but these are just the short term. Parents have to consider 25 years of children responsibility, not just the first few years.
To begin, I would suggest the government to look into the HDB flat price for all Singaporean young couples. Why can't the government sell HDB flat cheaper (not just affordable) to a first timer young Singaporean couple? This will lighten the first burden and subsequently allow the young couple to build up their CPF saving for other purposes like child education and retirement nest instead of being wipe out by the flat alone.
Allowing more immigrants into Singapore is not solving our declining population and long term problem. I noticed a lot of these immigrants have only one child. Will these immigrants have more children? Based on our cost and standard of living, I doubt many immigrants will have a few children. When these immigrant become citizens, again we face the problem of taking care of these old folks later.
We have to fix the problem right from the roots, not just the surface.
I think the government could work on:
(a) Ease the standard of living so that younger generations can marry earlier - take away the cash portion when they apply for flat so that they can use their cash portion for wedding, renovation, furnishing and fixtures and other use
(b) Ensure that pregnant women/mom are protected, i.e. employers are not allowed to retrenched them during pregnancy and after giving birth for 1 year
(c) Lower the Coe and transportation cost for parents with 3 kids and above
(d) Provide more subsidies in terms of infant care/child care cost
(e) Giving subsidies/benefits, eg higher tax rebates to companies which are pro-family
(f) Fathers should be given at least 2 weeks of paternity leave to help out
(g) Giving more and better benefits in terms of housing if 3 generations are staying together
(h) Take away the maid levy
Here are several things that may encourage couples to have a child or children (let's start with one child first) :
- work life balance : shorter working hours for both females and males, this will allow us to spend time on our private life, eventually it will allow us to meet people, to socialise, to meet our future other half, to get married and to start a family.
- longer maternity and paternity leave : what we have right now is far from enough, especially for fathers.
- cheaper childcare : when both parents are working or even with a parent staying at home, it is not easy to junggle home works with 1 baby, and another young child. How can we afford to have more children if we cannot even take care of them? Not all parents have help from in laws or can afford to pay a helper. Childcare is ridiculously expensive in Singapore.
- less pressure schooling : how to cope with schooling when primary school is killing both students and parents. As working parents, we are already tired when we get home, how to help our children with their homeworks, projects, exams, etc? this will end up with tution competition, more pressure for parents and childrens, more money to spend on tution.
- RECOGNISE single parents : this is obviously the least thing done by the government. As single parents in Singapore are not recognised. They do not have status, they do not get baby bonus because they are not legally married. Most of single parents are not by choice, they are the ones who need help most. They do not even entitle for full maternity leave. This is very WRONG.
Probably the simplest way for the Singapore Government at this moment is to enforce a law that anyone working past their normal working hours (for example 830-5pm), the employees are entitled to overtime pay. It will ensure employees to increase their productivity and also eliminate the 'belief' that if you stay up late (past 5pm), you are a hard working employee and have more chance for promotion. Start advertising campaign that says staying late in the office past normal working hours is not cool as this could mean low working productivity during 830-5pm / employers need to review the working load of their employees to make sure everyone is not overloaded with their work / allowing employees to work from home for certain hours or days to suit their family need especially for young mothers / etc.
1) increase and make paternity leave mandatory. fathers have an important role to play in raising a child. 1-2 days of paternity leave is pathetic, especially the first month of a baby's arrival is most stressful for the mothers.
2) increase maternity leave/benefits including longer no pay leave. infant cares are so scarce nowadays and many parents need to take queue numbers
3) educate/incentivise employers more. many pregnant mothers feel bad for taking 4 months leave and sometimes compromise. bosses are not as understanding enough.
4) open more infant cares. i've wrote to 6 infant cares and all require me to be waitlisted. The most expensive one of course has vacancies, but its way beyond my budget. I can't go back to work if there's no available and AFFORDABLE infant care.
5) have more housing subsidies and priorities for family with children. Rising housing costs make it difficult to house a bigger family including grandparents.
6) primary school registrations: revamp the current phases priority. the priority should be given to siblings and to families who stay near. its ridiculous to have phases like volunteering or member of some associations... it creates unnecessary stress for parents who just wants a school near home.
Employers also have to refrain from being biased towards female employees who have young children. For employers like my husband's who are not really in support for male staff taking leave to care for sick child, I will be the one who has to frequently be on child sick leave. This always puts me in a difficult situation; a tug-of-war between pleasing the employer and caring for sick child. Priority will be for my sick child of course, but frequent leaves do not paint nice picture when it comes to appraisal period. I believe I am not the only one facing this sentiment as I have talked to many other working mums and many too share this concern. This is one of the many reasons why female employees contemplate to start a family.
The idea to work from home would definitely help in juggling our priorities. This is a win-win situation for both employers and employees. Just as much as we want to have a happy healthy family, we also would want to be able to contribute to the country's economy. This is the greatest challenge that working mothers with young children facing these days.
Another suggestion that might be able to encourage couples to have more children is to implement a working policy that allows employees with young children below 4 years old to work only 4 days a week. Children below this age are going through development process. On top of the many developmental checks that children below this age have to go through, they are also required to receive doses of vaccines and immunization jabs. With such working arrangements, parents will have the ease of making appointments for the children as such appointments can be made on the parent's non-working weekday. These will also ease the Saturday congestion and long queues in most Polyclinics. Besides, employees' working record will also be "cleaner" as there will not be too much leave taken shown in the system. Work prioritization can also be planned much better foreseeing the non-working day which could eventually lead to a higher productivity; another win-win situation for both employers and employees.
The old mindsets that employees have to be in office in order to do their jobs and women are the main caregiver for children's well-being have to make way for out the box working arrangements and equal sharing of parenthood.
I am a mother of 4 and now expecting my fifth kid.
However, as a fervent supporter of having more children, I realise that the support Government is giving is linear. It seems that the government only want families to have 2-3 kids per family only. For us, after having my third kid, my husband and I start to feel the strain financially. When the fourth child came, our financial burden become stressful.
I guess we have to respect individual on how they big they want their family to be. But for those who like to have more children, I hope the government can put in more thoughts to assist them. Areas such as added child care subsidies for 3rd child and above, additional cash incentives, PUB bills subsidies, car COE subsidies, etc. are areas which will really ease us of our financial burdens and relieve parents of their fear that they do not have enough to provide for their children.
Marriage cost is varies and depend on each individual.. even housing, we can have 3 room or 4 room. I believe I start wrok at 26 I can make it as a 4 room flat with my wife everyone also can do it. as my renovation onli cost 13K and it normal renovation for essential. My marriage is about 10K. it meet to the needs onli. I does not goes far for honey moon, in fact some others even cant go honey moon. So all these consider wants, infact concept change abit staying with parent is also a choice if environment does nt have any issue.
now is the real thing. both parent have to wrk. Some parent annual leave is low below 12 days. take MC also scare boss measured their performance as the MC is entitlement.
Thing realli need to be improved and review..
1. Childcare leave, 1st child 6 days for each parent is reasonable. But 2nd child should be either 8 days each parent and 3rd child parent should have a top up to max 10 days. 4th child also 10 days max.
2. Child care subsidies. alot of child care fee is scarely, it can up to $1000+++. what i see, it shd be lower or goverment shd goes more subsidies for local child. now 18 mth above is $300 and 18 month below is $600. critical timing is actually the below 18 months baby. cos mummy have to keep some Materity leave to stand by for children to see doc or review. Then they have to start work maybe in the 2nd of month materity leave. it is reali costly after subsidies and still need to pay the balance that more than $500 more.
3. HFMD, Chicken pox, fever or stamach flu, children sure need at least 5 days to recover. Why not allow parent to use the children MC to claim under their entitlement MC (14 Days or 45 hospital leave if children warded).
4. a review commitee must reali setup to gather more parent which are is in the middle and lower income.
5. relise childcare center is getting lesser and difficult to get in. I need to find childcare that is from another estate which is required to take bus away from my home at least 30 mins daily.
We shall share up much more solution for goverment to see, share your family setup plan. . If parent plan is stay condo, go oversea yearly better dun share. Cos we mus value wat is need and want first.
if the gov can assist with the cost of raising a child , i believe this will helps the couple
into the thoughs of having a few more.
the cost item that involving will be caregiving , education and lastly medical .
besides this raising cost of a child, if the gov can assist with full medi-save payment
in terms of IVF for those with fertility issue .
Why give more maternity leave? Given 4 months is more than enough.
As a parent, we would rather spend more time with our kids.
Why not consider giving working parents more child care leave every year as the child grows.
What is the point when we are called to have kids and never spend time and love with the kids.
Children without the attention and love, might grow up rebellious and do no good to the society.
We parents want to spend quality time with our children and with these extra leaves given Parents can spend time teaching the child and nurturing them.
Why the Child Care leave stops after 7 years of the child life?
Can MCYS/ government please extend it till children reach teenage?
Parents might need those leave in teaching children during their Primary school days.
Given the current 6 days child care leave isn’t enough.
Would appreciate that the MCYS/ government to consider giving us more child care leave and child sick leave. Please also extend the child Care leave till children are into their teenage.
May MCYS/ government please consider those issue.
I have a friend whose married for several years and do not think of having babies. I ask them why, their reply was, the burden is already so heavy. Flat, electric bills, phone bills, a lot & a lot of expenses. Both parents are still around, they have to look after their parents as well. All about $$$. Once they have babies, the expenses would be higher. Milk powder, diapers, insurance etc... and they were afraid that if they were unlucky enough that their child suffer from whatever kind of illess. medical expenses is so high here. After that was education. School teachers nowadays were so not as professional. Some even teach just for the $$$. Parents have to engage tuition teacher which cost a bomb and blah blah blah... so all these, after much consideration. They give up having a bay. NOY EVEN A SINGLE ONE.
The question is, Is the government willing to spend to support the growth of families?
Is the governent willing to support women in child-bearing and child-raising by giving monthly monetary support to single-income families so that they can have at least two children and raise kids without any worry and fear.
Singapore should not be run like a business enterprise without heartware anymore, otherwise it will eventually fold up, like what MM said,
Employers' mindset have to change before women would consider having kids and still
continue to work. More flexi-work options with fair wages are needed to be put in place.
The government must recognise the need in some instances (without parental help) and support the decision by some women to leave the workforce to look after their young child.
Many are putting aside having kids not because they are not willing to make sacrifice to their leisure and freedom. It's more because it's so hard to survive and live well with a single-income in high-cost Singapore.
Full-time work are stressful and demands their time and committment so are kids. It's not really that easy to grow a family without parental help if both parents are to work full-time.
Most of the work available in Singapore are full-time positions. Part-time work with
fair wages are almost non-existent.
Homestly speaking, It's not possible to have the best of both worlds,
babies and working women. Something got to give...
MONEY IS THE DEVIL!! Although money is not everything BUT EVERYTHIN****ONEY!!!!!!
Childcare after subsidies = $300/mth, child insurance = $200/mth and im not mentioning milk powder, diapers and other costs. Middle and lower middle and low income families will have alot to consider before committing to a child. In our society, besides high cost of raising a child, buying a vehicle for family convenience sake is also ridiculously pricey and i believe there are many married salespersons job which requires them to have a vehicle to move around but the thought of $70+k to $90+k just for a piece of COE paper(10yrs tenure) is enough to dash away their dreams of having one for job and ferrying family with their own kids. You don't expect both parents having to squeeze into the public transport with their babies/kids in tow everytime they go out. Do something for the family vehicle's COE and enhance the quality of lives before talking about babies