MP Louis Ng calls for more childcare leave for Singapore parents
"The current 6 days of childcare leave and unpaid infant care leave is insufficient," says Singapore MP Louis Ng.
What would encourage Singaporeans to have more children? When we asked this question in our poll, most readers voted for “More work-from-home options for mums” and “Free childcare”. MP Louis Ng, however, feels that there is another important factor – More childcare leave.
In a recent Facebook post, he wrote that money and the cost of raising a child weren’t the only factors. It was also a case of “time and leave not enough”.
Louis Ng writes, “The current 6 days of childcare leave and unpaid infant care leave is insufficient. It doesn’t make sense that the amount of leave doesn’t increase when you have more kids. Parents with four kids clearly need more leave than parents with one child.”
He mentions that with diseases like HFMD being common in Singapore, parents would need more time off to care for their child.
“I experienced this last year when all 3 of my kids had HFMD consecutively. Ella had to be out of school for 2 weeks”, he reveals.
“Can we consider giving childcare leave on a per child basis?”
“For parents with two or more kids, I will ask Minister to consider allowing parents to use their sick leave entitlements also when their child is sick. Parents can provide their child’s MC as proof when using this leave.”
In a later Facebook post, Louis Ng also revealed that he would urge the government to:
- Extend parental leave for parents with multiples or preterm babies.
- Extend childcare leave especially for parents with 2 or more kids.
Many Singapore parents have supported this call for greater childcare leave.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Josephine Teo on 28 Feb 2019 revealed that the National Population and Talent Division would consult Singaporeans on their needs and concerns over marriage and parenthood.
“We will embark on a consultation process in the coming months to listen to the needs and concerns of Singaporeans over forming families. I look forward to receiving your feedback and suggestions on how we can Make Singapore a Great Place for Families together!” she wrote in her Facebook post.
She shared the key marriage and parenthood benefits that a young couple can receive today, compared to five years ago:
A couple can now own their first home sooner.
From May 2018, HDB has made it easier for young couples (aged at least 21) to buy a flat. They can defer their assessment of income for housing loans and grants to just before they collect their keys.
Parents now benefit from greater support for child raising costs.
When their first child is born, parents receive up to $18,000 through the MediSave Grant for Newborns, Baby Bonus Cash Gift, and the Child Development Account (CDA).
This is $3,000 more than the maximum a couple would get in 2014.
Parents now also receive a CDA First Step of $3,000 deposited by the Government, without having to save into the CDA first, which helps to lighten their load at the start of their parenthood journey.
Parents would find it easier to enrol their child in an affordable and good quality preschool.
There are 170,000 full-day preschool places today. By 2023, this will increase to about 200,000, and two-thirds of preschoolers will be enrolled in Government-supported preschools.
Josephine Teo also said that the Government would review MP Louis Ng’s request for greater childcare leave. Apart from that:
- The Government would review its assistance for couples who struggle to conceive and want to undergo assisted reproduction technology treatments. This is considering the trend of later marriages and birth.
- Parents have raised concerns about financial costs, such as preschool fees. ECDA is reviewing the preschool subsidy framework, to make quality preschool more affordable for parents.
“The Ministry for Social and Family Development (MSF) will provide an update on this during its Committee of Supply debate”, said Mrs. Teo.