Tuesday, 22 July 2008


As usual I was listening to the radio while driving to work the other day and the topic of the day that the DJs were discussing was what incentives should the Government give to encourage Singaporeans to give birth to more babies.

Many people responded, from the ridiculous to those that are still very bitter about the implementation of more ERP gantries to some very nice suggestions.

While I was never a believer of offering cash to encourage more births but I have to admit the money will come in handy for settling the hospital bills. However I feel that perhaps the money should be given out straightaway upon discharged or used to offset the hospital bills directly instead of giving back bit by bit over 18 months.

Isaac has already turned 6 months and I have just received the 2nd cash gift of $750 making a grand total of S$1,500. I wonder when will the 3rd installment be paid.

I believe that if any couple feel that they want children then with or without incentives from the Government they will still have their children. If they are those that prefer not to have then I guess no amount of money will move them, I know I won’t.

In any case the incentives offered are insignificant when you look at the total cost of raising a child. I may be wrong here but there was a calculation done and it estimated that it will take about $700,000 to raise a child right up to the University. Even if this figure is exaggerated the few thousand offered is still a tiny drop in the grand scale of things.

In my opinion, besides having the money (termed Baby Bonus) paid out in a lump sum upon discharging from the hospital, a lot has to be done with the mindset of the employers here too.

Most of the companies here are not family oriented to begin with and some will even frown upon their female employee taking maternity leave. Others may not hire when they know that this applicant is planning to start a family soon.

Both Mike and Kat work in the Banking industry and you cannot imagine the Maternity and Paternity leave that some of these banks are offering. Try 5 months for Maternity and 1 week for Paternity leave. Needless to say they are all fully paid of course.

My company won’t even give me half a day off let alone 1 week when Isaac was born and when I asked them innocently if our company practice giving out paternity leave, their answer was they are merely following the Ministry of Manpower’s guideline. I interpret it as “Since the government is not enforcing then we, the private sector won’t even have to consider offering”.

So if the Government is really thinking of ways to boast the birth rate here then the one thing I feel they should start looking into is definitely offering dads Paternity Leave. Hopefully this will take away some pressure that the ladies are facing when they want to start a family. Besides that, hands-on fathers will also be able to help out at home while the wives are nursing themselves back to health. There is also a need for the fathers to bond with their children.

Maybe I am being greedy here but frankly 1 week is really not enough. This is especially the case if couples are not engaging the confinement lady. Speaking from experience, I thoroughly enjoyed the 1st month that I stayed at home although I had to take half day leave throughout.

Whatever the Government is planning to implement we can be sure that it will be better than what we already have now. My only wish is for them to announce fast as we all know it will usually take a while for new implementations to take effect.


ourlittleone said...

saw your comment left in my blog. is ok, just happen my fren introduce this brand of thermal suit for me. Will try it out and take pictures! Hopefully she wont catch a cold this time.

Aces Family said...

Hi Dylan,

Baby bonus is just a "sweetener" to the couples. Eventually, the FULL $700,000 bill still falls on the parents.

I got $1 to $1 match for my 2nd child CDA (child development account) up to a capped of $6K. Now it's almost all used up on childcare fees, so in actual fact, i am returning the $$ back to the govt.. : P (MCYS)


Anonymous said...

Hi Dylan,

Can't agree more with your entire post.

A fren of mine got sacked once her employer learnt that she's pregnant. No matter how our govt encourage pple to give birth to more kids, i think employers shld be brained wash too... BTW, my hubby never hv a single day of paternity leave too, he had to apply for annual leave to accompany me during my hospital stay. Hence, in order to make myself feel better, i try to be happy that I'm still paid during my maternity leave. My counterparts fm Australia & NZ can hv up to a year of maternity leave, but not a single day is paid... at least 1 hv almost 3 mths of paid leave.. keke..

I too hope the new scheme will be announced soon, but i hv a feeling that i may not be lucky enough to catch it...hehe...

Irene said...

you guys get paid to make babies?!
whoa, sori a bit the "suaku" me.. pardon my ignorance towards tis topic.

cool man. at least they (the govt) give you something, hehe...

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi there Chloe's mummy (don't think i got your name yet right?)

Go in the afternoon like 3pm and with this thermal suit I'm sure she will be fine.

Must be patient in case she cries once her feet touch the water. Took me around 10 minutes to get Isaac ok with the water.

Good luck and have fun. Looking forward to your pictures.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Astee,

I agree the baby bonus is only a sweetener but I feel that it will not do much to couples who do not want children.

About this CDA, how long must you leave it in the bank account for? When can you start using it? Are there limitations on what it can be used for?

Appreciate your advice here.


A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Nana,

I will not be surprised if most if not all the fathers will agree with us on the Paternity leave bit. It cannot be assumed that only mothers want to be with the newborn and do all the bonding. Hey we dads too want some time off to play with our newborn although they will be sleeping most of the time.

Actually based on my current experience, if we can hold on to the Paternity leave till 6 months later it will be nice because at this age Isaac is so much fun!

Wish he can remain at thi stage for longer. He is growing too fast.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Zekerene (Irene by any chance?),

Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment.

Yes we at Singapore do get some Sweetener from our Government for giving birth. And we get more money with the 2nd and 3rd kids. I wouldn't expect you to know since you are from KL.

This is the Government's effort to boost our birth rate because we are the 2nd fastest aging population in Asia (probably the world also), only behind Japan. Being such a small country we really need to do something about it.

Then again I am always pro-creation. If you read my earlier posts then you will probably know that I would like to have 3 kids if possible.

Do keep reading ya?! Take care.

Aces Family said...

Hi Dylan,

Fyi, http://www.babybonus.gov.sg/bbss/html/index.html


Anonymous said...

Previously, for the last announcement, it was backdated to 1 Aug if I am not wrong.

So hopefully, for this year, the incentives would be the same or before I pop in end Sept / early Oct! :p

But I am with you, I do think that Paternity Leave should be made compulsory and min. of 1 week (2 weeks would be good!). 'Cos thats what it should be - family planning. The husband should be involved where they have a chance to bond with the munchkin and I believe the support rendered to wife would be good as well. I think the initial few days is exceptionally important 'cos thats when reality sinks in that this munckin is for life! LOL...

Some speculations that maternity leave may even be extended further to 4 months (I think my boss would faint at this one) but there are some nice practice overseas. For e.g. some countries actually pay out a small allowance for SAHMs, laws on how the companies cannot fire the mothers within a year of birth, etc.

Some tots...

wenshi said...

Oops...just saw ur comment in my blog. However i've been reading ur blog for quite some time already.

Anonymous said...

hi alliet
4 mths maternity leave!! not only ur boss, my boss also will also faint. she actually said if she can make do without a staff for 3 mths, than she wont need that staff anymore.. so not pro-family

Indeed the workplace is the reason for the low birth rates. Will employers change their mindset??? Hard to believe...

Anonymous said...

kekekekekee... nora, like yr boss, my company is actually not v pro family as well. my boss and HR have repeatedly hinted to me about prefably not taking full 12 weeks. finally i got annoyed and retorted back to my HR - i am ok going back to work after 10 weeks but that period would be our X'mas shut down. so, it will be their loss if i were not to take the full 12 weeks, not mine. told her to check the calendar before speaking to me again for the 5th time!

hence, i somehow do feel that mummies are at a disadvantage - if we take the full term, companies are not so pleasant about it. if we dun take full term, we end up missing out on the bonding and resting period... sigh

Anonymous said...

I agree about the paternity leave. Why give the mothers 3 months of maternity leave and fathers only 1 or 3 pathetic days of paternity leave? Don't fathers need to take care and bond with the baby as well?

But come to think of it, after 3 months of maternity leave, when i went back to work, I felt VERY out of touch.

The Bimbo said...

MmmM I agree with you totally.

I think the biggest thing about me not wanting kids is that I don't want to be solely responsible for his behaviour and how he grows up. If Daddy is going to at work and leave all the "homework" to Mommy, I'll scream a huge "NO" and run far far away.

I work with children and I know how important home support is. AND that really scares me. Daddy has to play an important part too! :)

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Eunice,

Yeah, after all the talk about Fathers needing to play a bigger role, we still do not get any paternity leave.

It seems the bonding is only between mothers and babies in their eyes.

The Government preaches that we need to balance work and family but I guess they are referring to only the ladies.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Bobo,

Not to worry there because there are many hands-on guys out there who love children.

So all is not lost.