Singapore to offer two-week mandatory paternity leave

The minister says employers should play a big role in creating a pro-family environment in Singapore.

Singapore's Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo said she's pushing ahead with a plan to increase paid paternity leave to two weeks from one week currently.

The minister said besides increasing the leave paid for by the government, employers should play a big role in creating a pro-family environment in Singapore.

The minister, who is in charge of population matters, said the move is part of efforts to help the working people in Singapore to balance life and work more efficiently.

She compared Singapore with Denmark to say only 40 percent of fathers in the city state use heir one week paid leave while in the Scandinavian country more than 60 percent use their two-week leave.

Currently the second week of paternity leave can be used in Singapore only if the employer agrees. But the minister said this will soon become law. Toe said the bill will be discussed at the upcoming Committee of Supply debate in Parliament, Channel News Asia reported.

"In fact you will hear a lot of fathers talking about the joy that they get out of bonding with their children at different ages, and starting from a very, very young age, soon after birth. It's a good thing. I think the time has come for Singapore, for fathers, because they're willing to play a bigger part and we should enable it," Teo said.

The minister also said the said the government will pay more attention to childcare, particularly for infants below 18 months of age.

"What is very clear is that there will be a need, there will be an increasing need and the sooner we test out the ideas the better for us. So we are open to different formats at this point in time," Teo said.