SINGAPORE: From 1 May 2013, working fathers will be legally entitled to one week of paid paternity leave.
Parents welcome the move, but some pro—family organisations are calling for bolder measures.
Eileen Chan and Alvin Tan tied the knot two years ago. They are expecting their firstborn in April, and with that, the bumped—up Baby Bonus.
"I think the extra S$2,000 will come in handy, especially when it comes to immunisation for the kid," said Ms Chan. "In the first year, kids tend to fall sick more often."
For the Tans, the most welcome new measure is paternity leave. Mr Tan plans to take the week off right after his wife delivers.
He said: "Especially when the baby is new—born, as a father I’d like to spend more time at home with the kid, with my wife to help settle the kid in."
Alvin is optimistic his employer will grant his paternity leave, even though his child will be born just before the measure officially kicks in on 1 May 2013.
Employers are encouraged to offer paternity leave to all eligible employees with children born on or after 1 Jan 2013, and this will be reimbursable by the government.
Ms Chan can also share one week of her maternity leave with her husband.
It’s a move the National Family Council welcomes, but its chairman Mr Lim Soon Hock is calling for a whole month of maternity leave to be made gender—neutral.
Mr Lim said: "If we were to have longer paternity leave, essentially what we are creating is an opportunity for our women to go back to work earlier. But fundamental to this thinking must be that we have to move away from the notion that men are more valuable in the workplace than women."
The slew of bonuses is good news, but it is not the reason why the Tans want to have two children.
Mr Tan said: "The baby itself is the bonus, so all these incentives, we’re just happy to receive them!"
The new Marriage and Parenthood Package also makes adoption leave a legal entitlement.
Working, married women who adopt children under a year old will be entitled to four weeks of government—paid leave.
Previously, this was offered by employers on a voluntary basis.
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