Firms unlikely to offer same paternity scheme

            Businesses are unlikely to follow the civil service in rolling out an additional four weeks of unpaid infant care leave

The Singapore National Employers Federation said smaller companies do not have a sufficiently large workforce to absorb the impact of increased staff absences. Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Josephine Teo had announced in Parliament on Thursday a three-year pilot in which families with at least one parent who is a civil servant are eligible for an additional four weeks of unpaid infant care leave. She expressed hope that private companies would follow suit. Mr Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises, similarly indicated that he does not think all companies will be able to extend such a scheme, especially after considering increasing business costs.

'LIMITED RESOURCES'

He told The New Paper: "Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are faced with limited resources, it would be more difficult for them to do this."

The additional cost to businesses was also highlighted by Ms Ho Semun, executive director of the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation, who said: "Allowing an additional four weeks of unpaid leave will mean that businesses must look into temporary replacements or even possibly delaying projects. This will ultimately increase the cost of doing businesses."

In reply to TNP's queries, a Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) spokesman said yesterday that the take-up rate of paternity leave among fathers of children born last year is currently 35.7 per cent.

The take-up rate of paternity leave in the civil service among fathers with children born last year is currently 91.4 per cent, though MSF noted that some fathers may not have taken their paternity leave.

Source: The New Paper