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Recently, the government announced that it is considering granting fathers working in the private sector seven days of paternity leave. Right now, it is not mandatory and only government servants enjoy the benefit. This proposal came on the back of an earlier announcement that from 2021, it is mandatory for private sector employers to grant 90 days of maternity leave to their staff, up from the current 60.

Such proposals have received mixed responses. Employees naturally welcomed the idea while employers were a bit more apprehensive. For new mothers, they would be able to spend more time bonding with their kids. Studies have shown that children who spend longer periods with their parents in the initial months will be able to connect with their families better. For new fathers, they would want to be there for their wife who had just given birth.

Meanwhile, I can understand why some employers are worried about the financial implications of the proposals. Big companies may be able to better absorb the costs of hiring temporary staff to replace workers who had gone on paternity or maternity leave. But smaller companies may find it harder to cushion the financial impact, especially during such trying times.

This is why employers and employees need to look at each others’ points of view on this matter. Employees must realise that if their company’s bottomline is hit, they themselves would not be much better off in the long-run. Likewise, employers need to realise that if employees are able to spend quality family time at home with a newborn, their productivity could spike when they return to work.