NOTICE PAPER NO. 978
NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER
FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON 15 FEBRUARY 2022
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Dr Tan Wu Meng
MP for Jurong GRC
Question No. 2544
To ask the Minister for Health (a) what are the specific forms of support for public sector healthcare workers including doctors, nurses and allied health personnel who have post-childbirth, childcare, eldercare or other family caregiving responsibilities; (b) whether these include flexible working arrangements; (c) if so, what is the take-up rate for the past year, broken down by gender; and (d) whether professional development pathways and traineeships for healthcare workers are being updated to better accommodate mothers, fathers, and adult children with family caregiving responsibilities.
Public Healthcare Institutions have various support measures for staff with family caregiving responsibilities. Employees with at least three months of service are entitled to three to six days of Childcare Leave, Extended Childcare Leave or Family Care Leave depending on the eligibility criteria. Those whose new-born child is a Singapore Citizen are eligible to 16 weeks and two weeks of maternity and paternity leave respectively. Three days of Compassionate Leave will be given to staff whose immediate family have critical illness or passed on.
Beyond leave benefits, there are additional options such as flexible hours, staggered shifts and compressed work weeks. public healthcare institutions have progressively moved to electronic rostering systems to support flexible work arrangements in a bigger way. Work-from-home arrangements also enable staff to work remotely where feasible.
In the past year, 100% of eligible female staff in the public healthcare clusters took up post-childbirth maternity leave, while 80.4% of eligible male staff took up paternity leave. 53% of female staff tapped on childcare, eldercare, and other family caregiving leave, whereas 48% of male staff did so. The take-up rate for part-time work arrangements was 1.3% for males and 4.1% for females.
Aside from flexible work arrangements and leave benefits, other support measures have been put in place. Most public hospitals have childcare centers and caregiving facilities such as lactation rooms on site for their staff. NUHS has a “Eat with Your Family Day” every quarterly to remind employers and families to spend dedicated time with their loved ones. Change of job roles, where feasible, can be requested to accommodate staff’s family care giving needs. SHS has a Contingency Nurse Pool allowing nurses who have left service because of family responsibilities to continue with clinical practice on an ad-hoc basis by signing up to be activated on a contingency basis.
Professional development pathways and traineeships for doctors, nurses and pharmacists do make accommodations for healthcare workers with family caregiving responsibilities.
Doctors on post-graduate medical training are also entitled to additional study leave. While there is a maximum number of days that they can be absent from training to ensure that the quality of training is not compromised, flexibility has been provided for them to manage their leave arrangements with their training programmes to attend to their caregiving responsibilities. Special consideration has also been provided during the COVID-19 period to allow for slightly longer periods of absence.
Provisions have also been made to accommodate nursing students who are pregnant to defer training. With supporting documents, students will be given approved leave if their children and parents require their care.