SINGAPORE: Nine Swedish multinational companies will double paid paternity leave to four weeks for employees in Singapore.
This will take effect from next year, according to a joint pledge announced on Thursday (Dec 9) by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce Singapore (SwedCham).
The nine companies are ABB, AstraZeneca, Atlas Copco, Bolon x The Andrews Group, Electrolux, H&M, Mentor Media, Oriflame and SKF.
In Singapore, working mothers are eligible for 16 weeks of paid maternity leave while fathers are entitled to two weeks of paid paternity leave as mandated by the Ministry of Manpower.
Urging more to join their “#DoubleUp” pledge, the nine Swedish firms called on other businesses “to take paternity leave seriously and encourage men to participate actively in caregiving roles, allowing women a more equal footing in the workplace”.
Mr Adam Cich, executive vice-president and head of Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa at home appliances maker Electrolux, said the current disparity between paid paternity and maternity leave “indicates an expectation that women should continue to shoulder most of the caregiving duties”.
“By increasing paternity leave, our aim is not only to empower fathers to contribute more at home, but also to highlight the important role of the business community to intentionally build corporate cultures that promote gender equality,” he said in the press release.
Echoing that, AstraZeneca Singapore’s country president Vinod Narayanan said gender roles at home have evolved amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“And with more people embracing these changes, it is timely for companies to take another step forward by encouraging fathers to take a more active role during the early months of a child’s life,” he added.
SwedCham on Thursday also released a collection titled “#candid: 100 Perspectives on Gender Equality in Singapore”, which features personal stories and reflections on gender equality from men of all walks of life.
The association, a non-profit organisation representing the Swedish business community here, said it was inspired by the activities that Singapore launched this year in support of gender equality.
Singapore had earlier declared 2021 as the Year of Celebrating SG Women.
“With the book and pledge, we want to show that we are supporting the efforts to move the needle in Singapore even further towards a more equal and sustainable society,” said SwedCham’s general manager Lisa Ferraton.
Other companies that have adjusted their parental leave policies in recent years include Swedish furniture giant IKEA. The company said in 2017 that it was giving four weeks of paid paternity leave to all male employees with newborns.
Citi Singapore announced last year that it will offer four weeks of paid paternity leave to new fathers, as part of a review of parental leave policies across the bank’s global operations.