At theAsianparent we have been working on a project that is very close to our hearts, the support for stillbirth parents through Project Sidekicks.
We spoke to a number of people in various government entities about crucial changes that we recommend and we are happy to share that the Singapore parliament has just passed amendments to the Child Development Co-Savings Act in Parliament on August 2 (Monday).
These new amendments allow working parents of stillborn babies born in Singapore to qualify for benefits, including maternity and paternity leave.
Retrenchment Compensation And Benefits To Parents Of Stillborn
Speaking at the Parliament, Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling said, “Parents of stillborn children need to recover physically and emotionally, and this move can help them in this difficult journey.”
Under the new changes, parents who are retrenched and have to give up their remaining parental leave will have the benefits paid out to them.
Stillborn or deceased children will be counted among other children borne by a mother for her eligibility to avail the benefits.
“Depending on whether they are entitled to leave or benefits schemes, including them in the child order determination will allow more employers and working mothers to receive a higher quantum of reimbursement or payment,” said Ms Sun.
Adding, “We hope that this will go some way to help mothers, and also encourage employers to be more supportive of working mothers with more children.”
Stillborn Babies Amendments And Compensation For Unwed Mothers
During the debate on the proposed amendments, MP Jamus Lim (WP-Sengkang) called for longer leave period for mothers of stillborn children. He also called for compassionate leave to be extended to fathers of stillborn children.
“There is no difference between the physiological trauma by a mother of a healthy versus stillborn child. Consequently, I believe that we should not exempt the latter from any of the benefits of rest and recovery that the government-mandated maternity leave confers,” said Mr Jamus.
In response, Ms Suo – who is also a Minister of Education – said that all government benefits have been “equalised” over the years. These include support to caregiving, growth and development of children as well as “subsidies in healthcare, education, childcare and infant care, the MediSave Grant for Newborns, MediShield Life coverage from birth and the Foreign Domestic Levy Concession.”
“For other benefits such as the Baby Bonus cash gift and parenthood-related tax benefits, these continue to be targeted to encourage parenthood within marriage,” added Ms Sun.
Other Amendments To Child Development Co-Savings Act
Other changes to the Act include benefits for working dads and adoptive mums, both of whom previously didn’t qualify for paternity leave or adoption leave.
Benefits for working dads and adoptive mums
Earlier, some of them had their contracts expire shortly before the birth or adoption of their kid. But now, mums on short-term contracts and those who are not eligible for maternity leave can get cash benefits instead. With the amendments, the benefits will also be extended to working dads and adoptive mums.
- To avail of the benefits, the parent must have worked as an employee or self-employed person, or both for at least 90 days in the year.
- It could have been immediately before the child’s birth or the eligibility date for an adopted child. Those parents who have worked for longer periods will get higher benefits.
Ms Sun estimated that around 500 working fathers and adoptive mums will get benefitted.
Miscarriage leave for mums
Image courtesy: iStock
Mothers who miscarry in the 27th week of pregnancy will be eligible for sick leave and not maternity leave.
During the debate, Ms Sun mentioned that currently, working mums who need to recover from a miscarriage are given medical leave. So these mums can use their annual leave and some companies may offer compassionate leave.
Note: The 22nd week of pregnancy, under the new Registration of Births and Deaths Act.
Image courtesy: iStock
MPs similarly asked the government to give more benefits to the fathers. MP Louis Ng asked for more paternity leave so that fathers can spend more time with their kids.
He highlighted that it is unfair if mothers get 16 weeks of maternity leave and fathers, on the other hand, can get just two weeks of paternity leave.
Citing a study, Mr Louis further said that children whose fathers took paternity leave also have fewer behavioural problems.
Another noticeable change was for mothers of non-citizen children who qualify for maternity leave will no longer be eligible to receive government-paid maternity benefits if the children later gains a citizenship.
This will prevent the mum from receiving both paid leave and cash benefits at the same time.
It will also ensure equal treatment for mothers whose children are citizens from birth and those whose children are new citizens.
Fathers exempted from leave for children born out of extramarital affairs
Finally, there are some amendments that were made with the aim to tighten the policy gaps.
For instance, dads will not be able to use the paid childcare leave benefits and other unpaid infant care leave under the Act for children born from extramarital affairs.
The father can however, become eligible for benefits if the birth parent decides to marry later.
Mums will still be getting paid childcare and unpaid infant care leave. This is because mothers are usually the main caregiver and it will ensure the wellbeing of the child.
News source: CNA
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