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More childcare leave could help with birth rate

I refer to the report “Fewer babies born last year than in Singapore’s Golden Jubilee year” (Feb 11). Last year’s total fertility rate (TFR) was 1.2.

I refer to the report “Fewer babies born last year than in Singapore’s Golden Jubilee year” (Feb 11). Last year’s total fertility rate (TFR) was 1.2.

Even if the number of births in 2015 was the highest in a decade, the TFR was 1.24, falling short of the TFR of 2.1 Singapore needs.

The Government has put in incentives for Singaporeans to have more children with the improved Marriage and Parenthood package.

But one area that needs more improvement is childcare leave, which is now capped at six days per year per parent for children below seven years old, regardless of the number of children the couple have.

Already, parents with one child may find it challenging to not exceed this limit of six days. A cold could take three days of childcare leave, as young children may take more time to recover compared with adults.

And as it is normal for couples to have children who are a few years apart, the six days must be utilised carefully between their children.

So why not have tiered childcare leave? Rather than a hard limit of six days per child, which could provide staffing challenges for companies, it could be 10 days for parents of two, 14 days for three children, et cetera.

The Government has done well in terms of monetary incentives, but time is also needed and is more important when it comes to having children.

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