Almost half (47 per cent) of Singapore-based workers support equal parental leave, reveals new research released by jobs portal Indeed.
The support for equal parental leave is growing particularly among younger demographics with 55 per cent of 18–24-year-olds and 51 per cent of 25-34 year olds surveyed advocating for it.
The findings come as the Singapore government announced plans in the budget to increase government-paid paternity leave and improving gender equality is also placed front and centre.
Studies have found that 80 per cent of the gender pay gap is due to the ‘motherhood penalty’ where the pay disparity between women who choose to take time off to have children and their male counterparts widens. One solution to reducing this gap is through improving paternity leave benefits and encouraging more men to take it.
Interestingly, high income workers were more likely to receive additional paid parental leave with 46 per cent of those surveyed who earn more than $10,000 per month and 38 per cent who earn between $7,501-$10,000 stating it was offered in their workplace, says the report. Despite this, only 28 per cent of those earning over $10,000 supported equal parental leave.
The IT (44 per cent), retail & consumer (42 per cent) and financial services (39 per cent) industries were the most likely to offer additional paid parental leave to workers, while legal (43 per cent), public sector (36 per cent) and the built environment (36 per cent) were the top industries to offer additional paid maternity leave. Additional unpaid parental leave was offered most to those in arts & culture (41 per cent), HR (38 per cent) and energy & utilities (35 per cent).
“Parental leave is becoming an increasing topic of conversation among businesses, job seekers and government alike as society continues to recognise the importance of both parents being present in their child’s formative years. Offering this leave is a critical step on the journey to improving gender equality in the workforce and encouraging working parents to spend more time with their children,” said Nishita Lalvani, Marketing Director at Indeed.
Further, nearly a third (32 per cent) of parents or soon-to-be parents felt they had been discriminated against at some point in their career for having a child. This sentiment was higher among more experienced workers with 65 per cent of business owners, 44 per cent of senior management and 43 per cent of c-suite executives stating they had experienced some discrimination in the workplace for being parents.
Overall though, the majority of workers who identified as parents or soon-to-be parents felt supported by their workplaces. Men were more likely (73 per cent) to consider their workplace inclusive and flexible for parents versus 68 per cent of women.
Those in the catering & leisure industry were the most likely to say parental leave shouldn’t be equal (31 per cent) but also the least likely to feel their workplace is supportive of new mothers returning to work. Only 56per cent agreed with the statement compared to the overall average of 80 per cent.
A quarter of 35–44-year-old respondents who are not parents feel they do not receive as much support as those with children or they have to shoulder extra responsibilities.
The study found that not many workplaces offered more than 6 months leave for new parents. A small percentage of workers in the built environment (9per cent) and arts & culture (6per cent) were among the lucky few. Tech, media & communications and travel topped the 16 weeks to six months category (30per cent and 25per cent respectively). Arts & culture (65per cent), financial services (62per cent) and sales, media & marketing (57per cent) were the industries most likely to offer support or additional leave for birth complications.
Some common additional support from workplaces for new parents includes flexible working arrangements, additional childcare leave or family leaves, medical cover and insurance, wellbeing packages and cash bonuses or gifts.
“While there is no one size fits all for the support a business can offer to its employees, offering flexibility and support where needed – for both parents and non-parents – should be on the agenda of every business. More often than not, your people are your business and in today’s flexible workplace, providing additional leave or other support mechanisms can help drive a more positive work environment for all,” said Lalvani.