Singapore

About 8,000 dads have taken full paternity leave

SMEs finding it tougher than large firms to cope with fathers taking additional week

About 8,000 fathers have taken a second week of paternity leave since last year, even as some firms try to cope with their male staff being away for longer.

About 6,200 fathers of children born last year and 1,700 fathers of those born in the first five months of this year have taken the second week, according to Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) figures given to The Straits Times.

Initially, employers could volunteer to give the second week to fathers with children born from 2015, and would be reimbursed by the Government if they provided it.

However, it was made mandatory to give this to fathers of children born from this year. Fathers can use their Government-paid paternity leave up to a year after their child's birth, said an MSF spokesman.

Figures for last year and this year will be finalised at the end of March 2018 and March 2019 respectively, when the deadline for the submission of claims is over.

Some fathers do not take the two weeks in succession to minimise disruption at work and to support their wives at other times during their children's first year.

While large firms have generally found it manageable, some small and medium-sized enterprises have had it tougher.

"With annual leave, public holidays, leave for reservist training and paternity leave, a male employee could be away from work for as long as three months," said Mr Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.

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