According to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Grace Fu, while the newly announced extra week of paternity leave will be implemented on a voluntary basis for now, the scheme may become mandatory in a few years.
She says that the government would consult with employers and unions before legislating the move.
Working fathers are eligible for the extra paternity leave if their employers voluntarily decide to grant them leave, and if they worked continuously for at least three months before the child was born.
The father must also be married to the child’s mother, and the child must be a Singapore citizen.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Sunday at the National Day Rally that paternity leave will be doubled and is backdated to take effect at the start of this year.
The Public Service Division, which is Singapore’s largest employer with 141,000 employees, has announced that it would provide its employees with the extra week of paternity leave.
The aim is to “set the tone in the employment market”, Ms Fu said.
“The labour market is competitive, so if you want to attract better people and retain good staff, you’ll have to follow this trend and offer as competitive (employment) packages as possible,” she added.
The paternity leave can be taken by default as a two-week block within 16 weeks after the child’s birth.
Alternatively, it can be taken any time within a year of the child’s birth if agreed on by the employee and employer.