Cuts by MP Louis Ng during Prime Minister’s Office’s Committee of Supply Debate 2019
Extending childcare leave
Young couples are rightly concerned about whether they have the means to bring up a child. It is now not just “money not enough”, but also “time and leave not enough”.
The current 6 days of childcare leave and unpaid infant care leave is insufficient. It doesn’t make sense that the amount of leave doesn’t increase when you have more kids. Parents with four kids clearly need more leave than parents with one child.
With Hand Foot and Mouth Disease so common now, 6 days of childcare leave is just not enough. I experienced this last year when all 3 of my kids had HFMD consecutively. My 4 year old had to be out of school for 2 weeks.
I’m not even sure if parents who have two or more kids will have sufficient annual leave once their childcare leave has been used.
Can we consider giving childcare leave on a per child basis?
For parents with two or more kids, can Minister also consider allowing parents to use their sick leave entitlements also when their child is sick. Parents can provide their child’s MC as proof when using this leave.
Extending parental leave
It’s been almost 2 years since I delivered an adjournment motion calling for more parental leave for parents of multiples or preterm babies.
In the blink of an eye, our twins Katie and Poppy are now 2 years old. From fighting for their lives, they are now fighting for their toys. The burps have been replaced by farts. Their crying has been replaced by smiles and the beautiful sound of laughter. This parenthood journey has been priceless and I am so happy we have three healthy happy girls.
The adjournment motion speech brought back many painful memories of Katie and Poppy being born premature and almost losing their lives.
It is an experience that I hope no parent has to go through and I hope that through my sharing, our policies will change and they are changing.
It was announced last year that we will introduce a Tripartite Standard to encourage employers to provide 4 weeks of unpaid leave for parents of multiples or preterm babies.
Can Minister provide an update on how many employers are providing this leave? I understand MOE is providing this. Can Minister confirm if the entire public service is now providing this unpaid leave?
Watch the speeches here
Delinking academics and careers
Last year, I spoke about the need to better recognise public servant contributions and skills beyond their formal academic qualifications.
Minister Ong shared that one initiative was to merge existing schemes for diploma and degree holders. Beyond the point of recruitment, an officer’s progression is pegged to their on-the-job performance rather than their educational qualification. This has been done for MOE, the generic Management Executive Scheme in the Civil Service, and the Air Traffic Control Officer Scheme.
Minister Ong indicated that PSD will work with other public agencies to identify more areas where this can be implemented.
Can the Minister provide an update on which other public agencies no longer have different salary scales and progression structures for diploma and degree holders? Can we also extend this to ITE graduates, and not just diploma and degree holders?
Internal QSMs for public agencies
I spoke up last year about the need to provide platforms for public servants to provide feedback to upper management. Further, we need to close the feedback loop so that public servants know that their views are valued and can make a difference in strengthening the public service.
I suggested implementing internal Quality Service Managers within Ministries and Statutory Boards.
Minister Ong responded that all public agencies do conduct staff engagement surveys periodically.
I still meet some public servants who say that they have provided feedback but have no idea if anyone is looking into it and have not received any reply to the feedback provided.
Will the Minister consider adopting common principles and guidelines for the conduct of staff engagement surveys across the public service? Will the Minister also consider requiring public agencies to track the feedback received and actions taken in response to the feedback?
Watch the speeches here