While having such mandatory leaves "may be well-intentioned", Minister Teo noted that "we need to be mindful that it could have the effect of increasing costs to employers, and impact the employability of working caregivers in the long term."

Singapore's Manpower Minister, Josephine Teo has emphasised the importance of flexible work arrangements (FWA) for caregivers today, as compared to dedicated caregiver leaves.

In a parliamentary question yesterday (8 March), MP Christopher de Souza had asked if mandatory caregiver and bereavement leaves could be given for caregivers when their aged parents or grandparents are "in a terminal situation with a few weeks or months left to live."

In a written response, Minister Teo shared that while having such mandatory leaves "may be well-intentioned", "we need to be mindful that it could have the effect of increasing costs to employers, and impact the employability of working caregivers in the long term."

She explained: "While some caregivers require time-off to care for their aged parents or grandparents, many regard FWAs as a more sustainable means of support.

"In MOH's extensive focus group discussions in 2018, working caregivers provided feedback that FWAs were preferred to caregiving leave, due to greater flexibility and sustainability in meeting their caregiving needs."

In that vein, she noted that the tripartite partners have continued to make progress to encourage a wider adoption of FWAs. Today, more than nine in 10 employees, including caregivers, have access to FWAs - up from more than eight in 10 a few years ago.

"We will do more to entrench the practice of FWAs that has become more prevalent during the pandemic."


Photo / 123RF

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