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HomenewsIndranee Rajah: Flexi-work, fertility health & cash incentives might encourage more couples...

Indranee Rajah: Flexi-work, fertility health & cash incentives might encourage more couples to have children – Singapore News

The costs of bringing up children, the time needed to care for very young children on the one hand and elderly parents on the other are among the issues Ms Indranee highlighted in a Facebook post.

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Singapore — Flexible work arrangements and fertility health are among the options being considered by the government to encourage couples to have more children.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah said on Sunday (Nov 21) that parents in Singapore have raised certain issues and challenges.

The costs of bringing up children, the time needed to care for very young children on the one hand and elderly parents on the other are among the issues Ms Indranee highlighted in a Facebook post.

Ms Indranee, who took over the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) portfolio from now Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo last year, said policies and measures are being reviewed to offer more support to families.

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“At NPTD, we are in the midst of reviewing our current policies and measures to see what can be done to better support families and encourage marriage and parenthood,” she noted.

An important aspect of the review is promoting flexible work arrangements.

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Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, working from home became the new normal for many employers and workers.

In a series of seven dialogues on marriage and parenthood with NPTD, parents with young children shared that more flexible work arrangements have allowed them to spend more time with family.

“We must continue to find ways to create family-friendly and supportive workplaces, which in turn will make for dynamic, progressive and economically productive companies,” said Ms Indranee.

Although not a new practice, flexi-work, among other options, have become increasingly important to the younger generation, she noted.

Although there are no incentives currently in place for employers to promote workplace flexibility, Ms Indranee noted that “The best impetus is really if the companies themselves understand that it is in their best interest (to do so).”

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“The question is how do you design workplaces around family without actually sacrificing productivity? My own sense is that it is those companies which can get this right – the ones who have good human resource practices and who are family-centric – that will probably have the highest productivity, employee retention, and ability to attract and recruit,” she said, reported The Straits Times.

In October this year, the Baby Bonus Scheme was enhanced for eligible children born, or have an estimated delivery date, on or after 1 January 2015.

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According to the Ministry of Social and Family Development, parents will receive the following cash gift in five instalments over 18 months.

In addition to flexi-work and cash incentives already available, Ms Indranee highlighted that fertility health is another area that needs to be focused on.

“Feedback indicates that greater awareness and access to information is very important. Also, the need to reduce stigma and provide better workplace and societal support.”

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“Some attention has to be paid to going upstream to looking at fertility health earlier rather than waiting until such time that it is much more difficult to address,” she added.

Ms Indranee called on businesses, employers, families, and individuals to create “this ecosystem of support” as it is something that the government alone cannot accomplish. /TISG

Read related: Indranee Rajah on new wedding restrictions, ‘I know couples…will be disappointed’

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