You can legislate for more paternity leave, but you can’t legislate workplace culture.
Whilst Desmond Choo, Director of NTUC’s Youth Development Unit, has been happy that the government will look into extending the mandatory paternity leave from 1 week to 2 weeks soon, working fathers still continue to face challenges at the workplace when asking for paternity leave, and even flexi-work.
So on one hand we are trying to encourage birthrate, on the other hand employers believe they are getting the shorter end of the stick.What will working fathers consider before asking for paternity leave, and how can they increase their chances of successfully getting more time off for their family?
What will working fathers consider before asking for paternity leave, and how can they increase their chances of successfully getting more time off for their family?
1. Will I risk losing my job?
Fathers would love to have more paternity leave (maybe even 2 months!), but would asking for paternity leave put them on the boss’s radar for retrenchment especially in the gloomy economy? No one wants to do any stupid things that will put them first on the firing list.
The good news is that if the second week of paternity leave is mandatory, your boss cannot prevent you from taking 2 weeks off to take care of your child. On your part, you should ensure a proper handover and contingency plans are in place during your leave. As in any job, showcase your value and how the company loses more by firing you.
I would definitely put onto paper Standard Operating Procedures for the many things you are involved in and make sure these are readily available to everyone that needs to cover you during this period of time.
And remember things will go wrong so it is crucial to account for things going wrong. But you already have taken care of that too.
Points scored with boss.
2. Will I risk derailing my future chances of promotion?
Even if fathers get to keep their job, what are the chances of them being promoted over other single colleagues who have more time to work?
If that is an actual worry, then you probably have a bigger issues when the yearly In-Camp training comes up.
Even ICT ends after 10 cycles. Paternity leaves only come about when you have new kids. Unless you are as crazy as me to have four, two weeks of paternity should not amount to much.
But many factors would also come into play that determine how it all might be perceived.
If your work strategy has been to put in hours and leave after your boss does, then you might have set up some unreaslistic benchmark to begin with.
It is time to steer back and focus on quality work instead of quantity time. If your boss appreciates the latter more, 2 weeks paternity is a good time to start looking around for something else.
3. How do I juggle being a working dad on just 2 weeks of paternity leave?
The truth is you can’t.
Fatherhood isn’t just something you finish and done with in 2 weeks.
It is a lifetime commitment that goes beyond. So to juggle well means a lot of adjustment to lifestyle and how you are used to operate.
A good thing though is that working fathers (and mothers) are entitled to 6 days of childcare leave should they need to take time off to take their child to the doctor or for family-related needs.
Ultimately the very entity that is paying your salary has to understand that you are slogging your time at the office for a reason, and that is to provide well for your family and your kids.
Otherwise the disconnect will make for very miserable time for both parties.