Long maternity and childcare leave offered to women, as a part of family-friendly policies will not boost fertility rate, but would only help promote employer bias as against hiring women, especially mothers, warns Harvard University sociologist Professor Mary Brinton.
This move will further reinforce gender division of labour in the household, with women staying at home to take care of the child, while men work. Brinton said this at a public session on family and population organised by the Centre for Family and Population Research at the National University of Singapore and the NUS Global Asia Institute.
This would only influence employer bias against hiring women, especially mothers and place them at a lower rung in the workplace, TODAY reports.
Brinton views six months as the maximum period for new mothers to be absent from the workplace, as this could impact their earnings and promotion possibilities “negatively.”To avoid such situations, she suggests that the family-friendly policies should start with new fathers being required to take childcare leave, besides offering paid leave to both parents.
The policy can be initiated with father’s leave being short for a period of one or two weeks, such that the idea of father’s leave becomes the new normal. Weighing in on the subject, Senior Minister of State (Prime Minister’s Office) Josephine Teo opined, in the recent years employers have been more accommodating when it comes to creating pro-family workplace environment, with very few showing “grudging acceptance”.
See: Parental Leave Policy: Best Practice Guide for HR Professionals in Asia
Also providing flexi arrangements, such as flexi-time, flexi-work and flexi-load to new parents could create resentment among co-workers, especially in situations wherein only a small group of employees benefit from this policy.
Brinton argues that such flexi-work arrangements should not be confined to parents only, but be made available to co-workers too, to support other family members like the elderly at home.
She further urged millennials to change their mindset about starting families, noting that it is quite outdated to put such plans on the backburner for the sake of one’s-career. Rather the young should consider building careers along with parenthood. Teo added, “If marriage and parenthood are to feature at all, they must be priorities earlier rather than later in life.”
Also having multiple careers might soon become the norm, so Singaporeans should view this as a “mountain range of satisfying career peaks throughout life.”
Also considering the fact that housing support, childcare policies and workplace/community support is a must to make Singapore more family-friendly, Teo thinks it is important to be in sync with society demands such that people feel empowered to tap benefits available to them.
Also employers in Singapore should show optimism about adopting pro-family policies, which is not detrimental to business success.
Also read: Gender imbalance: Are females missing out on Singapore’s tech revolution?