DAD SAYS Thumbs up for pro-family incentives

Family-friendly initiatives like flexible work arrangements will really help couples with kids, says dad of three Edmund Tay.

“Parenting is never easy! It is a journey that stretches one’s character and yet, makes us better people at the same time. What makes the adventure more agreeable is the knowledge that one doesn’t take this “passage” alone. A helping hand is always a source of great comfort and this family really appreciates the assistance that the government offers.

Looking at the current parental assistance framework, several incentives have stood out for us over the years. As our parents get older, we are glad that there is a Proximity Housing Grant of $20,000 for families who buy resale flats close to their parents/child. Grandparents are a great support for young children and the close proximity encourages the strengthening of family ties. As we make plans for our future, this incentive is definitely top on our minds.

As parents, we know for a fact that our kids will get the common flu and illnesses like HFMD. With six days of paid childcare leave for kids under 7 years and two days for parents with kids aged 7 to 12, I think we are off to a good start. Although children will definitely fall sick more often than the allotted six days, I believe that this change of tone is important for a supportive family environment.

“It takes a village to raise a child, so when employers are supportive of parents, half the battle is already won.”

It was announced in March 2017 that in the next three years, there will be a pilot in which public servants can take an additional four weeks of unpaid infant care leave. This means that public servants and their spouses will be guaranteed six months of parental leave per couple. Currently, this is only given to public servants, but I believe that it gives a strong signal of the changing work culture in Singapore. When employees demonstrate which incentives they value, employers will change and adapt to the changing landscape in order to retain their best staff.

With an eye on the need for a changing work culture, one of the issues that always springs to mind is flexible work-life arrangements. As my wife and I are both working parents, we are always very appreciative that our employer supports work-life balance. We are given the liberty to arrange our work schedule, so that we can clock our work hours around the children. This means that we can permanently start work earlier or later, so as to accommodate the morning rush as the kids need to go to school. Our bosses also understand when we need to take leave for the odd school recital or playtime for our kids during school holidays. After all, work is something that will always be there, but when we miss out on the vital growing-up years of our children, it is forever lost.

Some of our friends do not enjoy the same flexible work arrangements and I am sure that this has created one of the ‘mental obstacles’ delaying young couples’ plans to become parents. Realistically, if one needs to change industries or jobs in order to bring up their children, it creates a huge disincentive to having children.

Therefore, one of the pro-family grants that really excites us is the Work-life Grant for flexible work arrangements. Currently, the government gives developmental grants to help companies implement flexible work arrangements (FWA) and other work-life programmes. Together with the FWA incentives, employees will have more opportunities to work from home! As a parent, such incentives are super important, as there is nothing more worrying than a sick child at home when one is stuck in the office.

Everyone agrees that it takes a village to raise a child, so when employers are supportive of parents, half the battle is already won. Coupled with pro-family bosses and colleagues, pro-family work culture, as well as an understanding home, this offers great comfort to any citizen who is thinking about starting a family.”

Edmund Tay is dad to Nadine, 9, Nathan, 10, and Nicole, 11. He blogs at edunloaded (Instagram handle: @edunloaded).

Photo: Ealbert Ho

This article is in collaboration with HeyBaby

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