'Difficult' to extend childcare leave to cover all home-based learning days: Indranee Rajah
SINGAPORE: It will be “difficult” to extend current childcare leave entitlements for parents to cover all days of their child's home-based learning (HBL) because the number of HBL days depends largely on the national COVID-19 situation, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah on Monday (Oct 4).
She said this in a written answer to a parliamentary question by MP Louis Ng (PAP-Nee Soon). Mr Ng asked if current childcare leave entitlements could be extended to those with children aged between seven and 12, amid a shift to home-based learning as COVID-19 cases spike.
Currently, each working parent of a Singaporean child can take up to six days of paid childcare leave if their child is under seven years old.
Working parents with children aged seven to 12 – primary school-going ages – can each take two days of paid extended childcare leave.
Ms Indranee said: “We fully empathise with the challenges faced by working parents when schools shift to home-based learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
But she added that “it would be difficult to extend childcare leave to cover all HBL days”.
“Currently, HBL for primary schools is implemented to curb the transmission of COVID-19. Given that the number of HBL days required depends largely on the national COVID-19 situation, extending childcare leave to cover all these days would not be feasible," said Ms Indranee, who is also Second Minister for Finance and for National Development.
A "practical approach to calibrating leave" is needed, to avoid affecting parents' employability, she said.
“At the same time, extending childcare leave by anything less would not address the underlying concern, which is the parents’ ability to be present at home to care for the child during HBL," she added.
A more sustainable solution would be to increase the adoption of flexible work arrangements to enable employees to better manage both work and family commitments, Ms Indranee said, adding that the Government will continue to work with stakeholders to "shape and promote family-friendly workplace and social norms".
She added that primary schools and student care centres also remain open during HBL days to care for students whose parents are unable to secure alternative care arrangements.
Meanwhile, the Education Ministry has also provided "a set of practical tips" to help parents in supporting their child’s HBL.