The Government will soon be introducing a series of dialogues to help find solutions for young parents to strike a balance between work and life. This is additional to other measures introduced previously like paternity leave in 2013 which allowed fathers to spend more time with their kids, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.
DPM Heng made this announcement while speaking at a Father’s Day celebration jointly organised by the Centre for Fathering, Dads for Life and Mediacorp on Sunday (16 June). He also revealed that this series of dialogues will be helmed by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo.
“One of the greatest struggle of a family is learning how to balance work and spending time with your children. My wife and I struggled with that a lot when we were working…Employers should also be thinking about how the workplace can create better work-life harmony for all our dads and mums,” he noted.
On the other hand, Mrs Teo took to her Facebook on Sunday and said, “Everywhere, workplace and cultural norms matter a great deal on whether dads feel empowered to take paternity leave. On so many issues related to work-life harmony, our expectations of each other shape behaviour much more powerfully than policies. This is why I think this topic deserves and demands our collective thinking and actions.”
She added, “What choices must we as individuals make for better work-life harmony? How can we, as the whole of society, better support each other to balance work, personal and family commitments?”
In her post, she also hopes that the citizens’ panel that looks at improving work-life harmony, which was announced on Saturday, will “bring Singaporeans from all walks of life together, to contribute different perspectives and develop solutions that will create sustainable work-life harmony in Singapore”.
In his Sunday’s speech, Mr Heng also shared the importance of partnership in marriage and parenthood, and said, “If the family is close and cohesive and everyone does his or her part, our children will be brought up in a very safe environment.”
His wife, who is the chief executive of the National Heritage Board, also spoke at the event and thanked him for a “close partnership”.
“From taking a stroll together when I was carrying the children, to being right there by my side when I delivered, to bathing the children when they were a few days old – just out of hospital after delivery – to teaching them how to read and ride a bicycle, how to become a better person…It’s always been a very close partnership, right from the beginning, and I am very thankful for that.”
Over on social media, netizens ridiculed DPM Heng’s statement on the importance of striking a work-life balance as they felt that it was a “dreamy theory” that could not be achieved in Singapore as companies here only focuses on achieving their Key Performance Index.
Highlighting their comments on ST’s Facebook page, some said that the Government should stop organising more series of dialogues and instead take some actions regarding it as it is obvious that young parents need it.
Jacob Seet mentioned that the dialogue sessions should be conducted with bosses and managers, and not workers.
Others pointed out that having work-life harmony is not possible as the cost of living is exceedingly high these days. As such, the public has no choice but to work more so they will be able to afford things like medical and childcare, given the rapid increase in price. As such, they’re calling for the Government to reduce the cost of living in Singapore.
A bunch of them suggested difference ways the Government can take to implement work-life harmony. Some of the suggestions include working four days a week, shorter working hours and flexi working arrangement where benefits are given accordingly based on the arrangement. Others said that work-life balance should be applied to all, and not solely to young couples.