Parenting is never easy! It is a journey that stretches one’s character and yet, makes us better people at the same time. What makes the adventure more palatable, is the knowledge that one is not taking this pilgrimage alone. A helping hand is always a source of great comfort and the assistance which the government offers is always much appreciated in this family.
Looking at the current parental assistance framework, there are a few incentives that stand out for us through the years. As our parents get older, we are glad that there is a proximity housing grant of $20,000 for families who buy resale flats close to their parents/child. Grandparents are a great support for young children and the close proximity encourages the strengthening of family ties. As we make plans for our future, this incentive is definitely on top of our minds.
The parenting process involves us growing with fact that kids get the common flu and things like HFMD. With 6 days of paid childcare leave for kids under 7 years and 2 days for parents with kids from 7-12 years, I think we are off to a good start. Although children will definitely fall sick more often than 6 days, I believe that this change of tone is important for a supportive family environment.
It was announced that in the next 3 years, there will be a pilot where public servants can take an additional 4 weeks of unpaid infant care leave. This means that public servants and their spouses will be guaranteed 6 months of parental leave per couple. Currently, this is only given to public servants, but I believe that it gives a strong signal that the changing work culture in Singapore. When employees demonstrate which incentives they value, employers will change and adapt to the changing landscape in order to retain their best staff.
With an eye on the need for a changing work culture, one of the issues that always springs to mind is flexible work-life arrangements. As my wife and I are both working parents, we are always very appreciate of our employer who supports work-life balance. We are given the liberty to arrange our work schedule so that we can better clock our work hours around the children. This means that we can permanently start work earlier or later, so as to accommodate the morning rush, when the kids need to go to school. Our bosses are also understanding when we need to take leave for the odd school recital or playtime that the kids require during the holidays. After all, work is something that we will have with us always but once we miss out on the vital growing-up years of our children, it is forever lost.
Some of our friends do not have the same flexible work arrangements and I am sure that this has created one of the “mental obstacles” that has delayed young couples from being parents. Realistically, if one needs to change industries or jobs in order to bring up their children, it creates a huge disincentive to having children.
Therefore, one of the Pro-family grants that really excites us is the Work-life grant for flexible work arrangements. Currently, the government gives developmental grants to help companies take grants towards implementing flexible work arrangements and other work-life programs. Together with the FWA incentives, it gives more opportunities for employees to work from home! As a parent, such incentives are super important, as there is nothing more worrying than a sick child at home when one is stuck in the office.
Everyone agrees that it takes a village to raise a child and when employers are supportive of parents, half the battle is won already. Coupled with bosses and colleagues who are pro-family, an understanding home and work culture which is pro-family, offers great comfort to any citizen who is thinking about starting a family.