AWARE supports men’s rights as fathers
This letter was written in response to the news that the National Trades Union Congress is calling for fathers to get two weeks’ paid paternity leave.
AWARE agrees with the National Trades Union Congress’ (NTUC) call for fathers to get two weeks’ paid paternity leave.
In AWARE’s 2011 survey of 1001 parents, 91 per cent of the respondents agreed that paid paternity leave should be mandated, with 80 per cent saying that paternity leave should be more than 6 days and 44% opting for paternity leave of more than 11 days.
In the survey, the majority of respondents agreed that four weeks of the 16-week maternity leave should be converted to parental leave to be taken by either spouse.
As with maternity leave, the State and employers should share equally the cost of paternity leave. In addition, the State should grant incentives for fathers to take up the parental leave. In the Scandinavian countries, fathers only started to consume their parental leave when the policies were revised to provide these incentives.
The current state policies only ‘recommends’ three days of paternity leave. This is insufficient, and fathers are not even guaranteed this.
The lack of paternity leave places issues of fertility firmly in the realm of women’s domain. It also leads to the misconception that parenting is synonymous with mothering. Instead, family management and parenting should be seen as a collective responsibility.
Legislating paternity leave expands men’s opportunities to be involved in the most valuable aspects of parenting and respects men’s right to family life beyond just being breadwinners. Active parenting by men should be promoted and misinformed stereotypes
of fatherhood and manhood should be dispelled.
AWARE also supports NTUC’s call for flexi-work arrangements to become ‘a right’ to all working parents, with priority for those with special needs or very young children.
Singapore currently has the longest work hours in the world and employers are still reluctant to introduce measures at the workplace to help employees achieve a balance between work and family life. In 2010, only 35 percent of private-sector employees were offered at least one form of flexible work schedule.
Employers must be incentivised to adopt flexible working arrangement, reduce working hours in their organization and provide childcare facilities at the workplace.
We hope that that State will implement more policies that support the parenting responsibilities of both men and women.
Corinna Lim, Executive Director, AWARE
Nadzirah Samsudin, Research and Advocacy Executive, AWARE