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Nearly one-third of working parents surveyed in Singapore have felt discriminated against for having children

Nearly one-third of working parents surveyed in Singapore have felt discriminated against for having children


This sentiment was exacerbated among more experienced workers with 65% of business owners, 44% of senior management and 43% of C-suite executives stating they had experienced such discrimination.

While 47% of workers based in Singapore surveyed support equal parental leave, the idea seemed to particularly resonate with the younger demographic. According to a recent study by Indeed, which polled 1,000 employees in Singapore, 55% of those between the ages of 18-24 advocated for such a benefit, while 51% of those aged 25-34 shared the same sentiment.

However, on the ground, not many workplaces were found to have offered over six months leave for new parents. A small percentage of workers in the built environment (9%) and arts & culture (6%) sector were among the lucky few. Tech, media & communications and travel topped the 16 weeks to six months category at 30% and 25% respectively.

Overall, by sector, information technology (44%), retail & consumer, (42%) and financial services (39%) were the most likely to offer additional paid parental leave to workers, while legal (43%), public sector (36%) and the built environment (36%) were the top industries to offer additional paid maternity leave.

Additional unpaid parental leave was offered most to those in arts & culture (41%), HR (38%) and energy & utilities (35%). arts & culture (65%) was also most likely to offer support or additional leave for birth complications, followed by financial services (62%) and sales, media & marketing (57%).

Interestingly, out of all worker demographics, high-income workers were more likely to receive additional paid parental leave — 46% of those surveyed who earn more than S$10,000 per month and 38% of those who earn between S$7,501-$10,000 indicated they were offered such in their workplace. Despite this, only 28% of those earning over S$10,000 supported equal parental leave.

On the other hand, those in the catering & leisure industry were the most likely to say parental leave shouldn’t be equal (31%) but were also the least likely to feel their workplace is supportive of new mothers returning to work. Only 56% agreed with the statement compared to the overall average of 80%.

With it becoming an increasing topic of conversation among businesses, job seekers and government alike, the study suggests that offering parental leave is a critical step on the journey to improving gender equality in the workforce and encouraging working parents to spend more time with their children. These findings follow Singapore's plans to increase government-paid paternity leave as announced in the Budget.

According to the World Economic Forum, studies have found that 80% of the gender pay gap is due to the ‘motherhood penalty’ where the pay disparity between women who choose to take time off to have children and their male counterparts widens. One solution to reducing this gap is through improving paternity leave benefits and encouraging more men to take it.

Still, nearly a third (32%) of parents or soon-to-be parents as part of Indeed's research felt they had been discriminated against at some point in their career for having a child. This sentiment was further shared among more experienced workers with 65% of business owners, 44% of senior management and 43% of c-suite executives, who stated they had experienced such discrimination.

Incongruously, a quarter of 35-44 year-old respondents who are not parents feel they do not receive as much support as those with children or they have to shoulder extra responsibilities.

Overall though, the majority of workers who identified as parents or soon-to-be parents felt supported by their workplaces, with men being more likely (73%) to consider their workplace inclusive and flexible for parents than women (68%). Some common support from workplaces for new parents includes flexible working arrangements, additional childcare leave or family leaves, medical cover and insurance, wellbeing packages and cash bonuses or gifts. 

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Lead image / Shutterstock

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