Families form the bedrock of Singapore society.
To this end, the government will better support parents in managing their work-family commitments, said Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong in his Feb. 14 Budget Statement.
This includes strengthening leave provisions for parents of infants, including fathers.
Doubled paternity leave
Currently, eligible working fathers of Singaporean children are entitled to two weeks of government-paid paternity leave.
Wong noted that "many studies, internationally and in Singapore, have shown that children with more involved fathers have better physical, cognitive, and emotional developmental outcomes".
As such, the government will double the amount of government-paid paternity leave from two weeks to four weeks to encourage fathers to be involved in their children's infancy.
Eligible working fathers of children born on or after Jan. 1, 2024, will be able to benefit from this enhancement.
However, the extra two weeks will initially be given on a voluntary basis to give employers more time to adjust. Employers who are ready to grant the additional weeks of paternity leave will be reimbursed by the government.
"But we will review this over time and intend to make this mandatory in due course," Wong added.
Self-employed individuals who have worked for a continuous period of at least three months before their child is born are also eligible.
"With the doubling of paternity leave, I hope the message is clear: we want paternal involvements to be the norm in our society, and we will stand behind all our fathers who want to play a bigger role in raising our children."
Increased unpaid infant care leave
The government will also increase unpaid infant care leave for each parent in the child's first two years, from six days a year to 12 days.
This will apply from Jan. 1, 2024 to working parents of eligible Singaporean children aged two and below, who have worked with their employer for at least three continuous months.
"This will give parents more time to bond with and care for their newborn, or to settle caregiving arrangements," Wong explained.
He added that in total, the enhancements will increase parental leave for a working couple from 22 weeks to up to 26 weeks in their child's first year.
"The enhancements to the Baby Bonus Cash Gift, Child Development Account (CDA), and leave provisions will cost the government an additional S$240 million per birth cohort of children.
And I hope this will provide greater assurance to parents and parents-to-be as they think about starting and raising their families."
Top image via Budget 2023 and MND/Facebook