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Singapore’s government has stated it is unlikely there will be any changes to the country’s current leave benefits, as more than 50% of employers currently give more than they are required to, and that parental benefits extend to married women only.
In Parliament this week, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) would not consider increasing the current minimum annual leave days.
This is partially because more than half of organisations in Singapore already provide more leave than what is legislated. Citing an MOM survey, he said half of companies provide more than the minimum 7 days of annual leave for rank-and-file employees, while 35% already provide 14 days or more.
“The Employment Act stipulates minimum labour standards to be complied by all employers and so ought to be kept basic,” he said.
Under the nation’s Employment Act, employees who have worked for an employer for a minimum of three months are entitled to seven days of annual leave in their first year of work. Thereafter, an additional day of annual leave is added for every year of work up to 14 days of paid annual leave.
Tan also encouraged employers to “consider more generous leave benefits as a strategy to attract good workers.”
But while additional leave benefits are being recommended by MOM, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam also stated in Parliament this week that when it comes to parental leave, single mothers are not entitled to the same benefits as married men and women.
Responding to a question, Shanmugaratnam said single mothers in Singapore do not qualify for two parenting benefit schemes – the Working Mother’s Child Relief and the Foreign Maid Levy Relief.
These benefits, he said, are intended to “support married women who remain in the workforce and raise their children within the context of marriage.”
“They reflect the prevailing societal norm where marriage is the first step towards family formation.”
He noted that government already provides a range of benefits for mothers, regardless of their marital status, which include centre-based infant and child care subsidies, Medisave grants for newborns and Medishield coverage for congenital and neonatal conditions.