Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong stated that the Government is still not ready at the moment to legislate eldercare leave as it needs to strike a balance between employers’ concerns on business costs and manpower constraints, and the employability of caregivers, versus the need for additional leave provision for eldercare purposes.
This is his response to questions filed by NMP Kuik Shiao-Yin who asked about the outcome of the Ministry's study on legislating eldercare leave for employees. She also asked what are the barriers that impede legislation of eldercare leave, how many working caregivers do not have eldercare leave from 2012 to 2017 and how many working caregivers quit work to care for an elderly family member full-time.
Mr Gan said that the government recognizes that caregiving is an important responsibility and is no easy feat, particularly for those who have to juggle between work and caregiving roles, adding that the Ministry of Health (MOH) has strengthened efforts to support caregivers by expanding the capacity of aged care services and the number of home and community care options.
He said that as the Government has been studying the issue of legislating eldercare leave in consultation with unions and employers, it is still not ready to legislate eldercare leave at this time.
However, he noted that there are existing leave provisions that can be used for this purpose.
MR Gan stated that according to MOM’s Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, some 176,200 females aged 25 to 54 were outside of the labour force in 2016, of which 10 percent were due to caregiving for family members or relatives.
"In relation to that, we encourage companies to provide more family-related leave benefits which can be used for different purposes, as well as flexible work arrangements. We track this provision and the trends have been encouraging thus far," he said.
The Minister also mentioned the number that 67 percent of employees working in companies offered at least one formal flexible work arrangement last year, up from 56 percent in 2011, adding that close to 8 in 10 employers also provide unplanned time-off or ad-hoc teleworking for their employees to attend to personal matters.
He said that public service agencies currently already provide two days of parent care leave per year. Some private companies have also done so.
OCBC offers two days of family care to employees who are not entitled to childcare leave. Cerebos Pacific Limited, a manufacturing company, also offers family care leave on top of statutory leave.
"We will continue to review the need for legislating eldercare leave as our socio-economic circumstances evolve over time," he said.