Despite having the right to government-paid paternity leave for two weeks, only 35 percent Singaporean fathers swapped the business suit for changing diapers in 2018. This is even a decline from 53 percent in 2017 and 47 percent the previous year.
The figures stem from the Singaporean Ministry of Social and Family Development answering a parliamentary question on 6 August, writes the Straits Times.
The decline is evident despite Singapore’s efforts to make paternity leave more attractive by doubling the paid leave from one to two weeks in 2017. Shared parental leave has also increased from one to four weeks.
To stress how far Singapore is lacking behind when it comes to paternity leave, the ministry compared figures with Denmark and Sweden, where 70 and 80 percent of fathers take advantage of the opportunity to take leave respectively.
However, Paulin Straughan, sociologist at the Singapore Management University believes, the problem partially stems from a perspective of traditional gender roles when it comes to caregiving.
“It may also be about self-policing at the workplace. Some may not want to be absent too often in order to show they are committed and dedicated workers,” she told the Straits Times.
Other explanations given are stigma from colleagues and employers as well as individual arrangements allowing for fathers to balance work and family life.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development also noted that fathers are entitled to their two-week paternity leave up to a year after the birth of their child. Hence, fathers of 2018 still have time to take their rightful leave with their baby.