I’d like to get into a little bit more detail here on my earlier post Solutions for our TFR. Ideas will need legs and arms, so I’ll take a stab at considering budgets and implementation for some of the policies I suggested, plus a few more new ideas.
There needs to be a balance between encouraging mothers to raise their children and encouraging mothers to earn more money to fuel our economy. While I won’t say that either one is always the better choice, the cards are stacked heavily against encouraging stay at home mums (or dads). MP Patrick Tay touched on this in parliament recently. My view is that tax breaks for high-income working mothers are already so generous that this is unnecessary.
1) Cut FDW and working mother tax reliefs for high-income families. The rationale is that you only have that pressing need for a FDW or tax breaks if you are in a less-than ideal financial situation.
2) Provide financial incentives for employees with children to work from home. No further ideas on how to implement this idea – current work-from-home policies are not targeted specifically at parents and are from the corporate side. Would like to see a employee-side push for work-from-home.
3) Extended maternity leave – full maternity leave until the child is 6 months old, but at 2/3 monthly pay as a statutory option for mothers. This helps to bridge the gap to a more reasonable infant care age (6 months old) without costing more. Also relieves the headache of trying to work 2 days a week or some such arrangement that many mothers do.
4) Optional unpaid maternity leave until child is 18 months of age. Tack on another 14 months (or 12, if policy 3 is implemented) of unpaid leave and protect the mother’s job so she has the option of seeing her child to childcare age and make the most of those early bonding years.
5) Child “living wage”. A living wage for each child, about $50 or 100 per month, until they are 12, credited to their CDA account as a “pre-matching” amount. This helps low-income families make full use of the CDA without putting pressure on cashflow. This amount will also almost always cover preschool fees paid through the CDA, especially for poorer families.
6) Pre-approve kids’ diapers, strollers and other child essentials as CDA approved items.
7) Shared sick leave for stay-at-home mums. Stay-at-home mums’ medical certificates can be used to excuse their husbands from work. The legal 14-day annual sick leave limit will be shared between father and stay-at-home mum.
8) Wheelchair-friendly public buses should be required to allow strollers to board in the same manner as wheelchairs. Strollers should be allowed to stay open on these buses for safety reasons.
9) Legislated “express” medical attention for children under 18 months, even at private GPs.
10) Minimum number of family parking lots (just like current disabled lots) in carparks.
11) Guarantee citizenship or PR to non-Singaporean spouses with a Singaporean child. Alternatively, spouses can be guaranteed LTVP+ upon marriage, PR after 2 years and citizenship after 4, as long as they remain resident in Singapore.
12) Grant automatic citizenship to descendants of Singaporeans who still have blood relations in Singapore.
13) Allow ex-Singaporeans the possibility of reclaiming their citizenship.