Maternity leave for single working mothers
Ms Kuik Shiao-Yin
Nominated Member of Parliament
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development
(a) what are the principles behind the decision on whether to provide for single working mothers the same 16 weeks of paid maternity leave as accorded to married working mothers; and
(b) how does the policy balance the principle of equalisation of opportunities for all Singaporean children with the principle of supporting the social value of parenthood within the context of marriage.
There are three objectives that guide our approach towards providing benefits and incentives to children and parents. We seek a balance among these objectives.
First, we are committed to providing all children with equal opportunities to fulfil their potential. For this reason, we extend education and healthcare benefits to all Singaporean children, regardless of the marital status of their parents.
Second, we want to continue to promote parenthood within marriage. This is the desired and prevailing societal norm in Singapore. So we have some benefits to incentivise births within marriages, and these are available only to married parents.
Third, we recognise that some families, including some single parents and their children, face greater challenges. We have support programmes to help these vulnerable families.
However, I fully understand that some single unwed working mothers require greater social support. This help encompasses education, healthcare, work and financial support. The support provided and needed clearly goes beyond maternity leave and some of these differences in benefits. Help is provided on many fronts in order to support the mother and child. Single mothers may approach any Family Service Centre or Social Service Office and we will follow up. Single expectant mothers are also supported through programmes in the community that provide hotlines, counselling and residential services. The Government will continue to work with the community to support single unwed parents and their children.
I recognise that there are some areas of difference in terms of what single unwed mothers receive as compared to married mothers. This is not cast in stone. I am sympathetic to the challenges faced by single unwed parents. I am reviewing some of these and will make adjustments, where possible.