TODAY Online - More take paternity leave, but dads, employers could do better: Chuan-Jin

Only 12,300 fathers took the paid leave amid the 30,000 to 40,000 births recorded.

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The number of fathers who took a full week of paid paternity leave has more than doubled since 2013.

Sharing figures in Parliament today (Jan 28), Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said that 5,500 fathers who were eligible under the scheme took the paid leave in 2013, while 11,900 and 12,300 fathers took theirs in 2014 and last year respectively.

The minister was responding to Marine Parade GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Seah Kian Peng’s question on the take-up rate for paid paternity leave in those years, and the number of employers who have agreed to provide an extra week of paid paternity leave.

The family-friendly scheme was enhanced in August last year, such that fathers of babies born on or after Jan 1, 2015 may claim that extra week of leave.

Mr Tan said that statistics for the take-up rate of the enhanced scheme would be available only after changes to the IT system and process are completed in the middle of this year, when employers would begin submitting their claims.

Pointing out that only 12,300 fathers took paternity leave last year, significantly lower than the “30,000 (to) 40,000” births each year, Mr Seah asked if this was due to fathers failing to apply or employers being unsupportive of the scheme.

In response, Mr Tan said: “I think you should ask the fathers why they are not doing so ... Why we took this step to introduce (paid paternity leave) really is to encourage both parents to take up a more active responsibility.”

As for employers, whether or not they grant paid paternity leave is still “on a voluntary basis”, Mr Tan said. “But we do very much encourage employers to do so.”

Mr Tan said the Government has been working with voluntary welfare organisations to encourage fathers to play a more active role in parenting.

“Anecdotally, we do see a lot more feedback — certainly in terms of younger fathers playing a much more active role in a range of different areas, so that’s encouraging,” he added.

Source: TODAY Online

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