Fulfilled dads are motivated workers

HAPPY FAMILY: Mr Phua Chit Wei and wife Linda, with daughter Alicia. The couple are expecting a son in September, and Mr Phua will benefit from one week of paternity leave.


    Jun 11, 2013

    Fulfilled dads are motivated workers

    WHEN his son is born in September, Mr Phua Chit Wei, 38, will have one more reason to smile.

    Besides welcoming an addition to his family, Mr Phua will get more time away from the office to support his wife, Ms Linda Rusli, 32, and to help take care of his four-year-old daughter, Alicia.

    This is because he will benefit from the recently-introduced one week of government-paid paternity leave, which took effect last month.

    Mr Phua, vice-president of emerging business at OCBC Bank, said the one-week paternity leave will come in handy in the first year of his son's birth, for trips to the paediatrician for medical check-ups and immunisations.

    With the one week of paternity leave, he can save on his annual-leave quota, which can be used for spending more time with his family.

    "I do enjoy parenting a lot... From changing diapers to washing the bottles. You can really bond with your child by being 'hands-on' and, in the later part of your life, you will really treasure the time you had (together)," Mr Phua told My Paper.

    First announced in January under the Government's enhanced marriage-and-parenthood package, the paternity-leave scheme aims to promote shared parental responsibility and to encourage fathers to play a more active role.

    Fathers can either take the one week in a continuous stretch within 16 weeks after their child's birth, or flexibly within a year from the child's birth, subject to mutual agreement with their employers.

    Reminiscing about when his daughter was born in August 2009, Mr Phua said his bosses and colleagues at OCBC Bank were extremely supportive and encouraging, easing his mind about being away from work.

    "In the two weeks (that I was on leave), my bosses gave me a lot of space. They also sent me many personal messages, offering me parenting tips," he said.

    But while Mr Phua's office culture is supportive of his dual roles as an employee and a father, it is not always the case in other workplaces, said Mr Josh Goh, assistant director of corporate services at human-resource consultancy The GMP Group.

    He said: "Unfortunately, there will be employers and colleagues who will see the additional leave as a burden, especially when most male colleagues have their reservist commitments to fulfil as well."

    That said, paternity leave should be seen as a boon rather than a bane, said Mr Goh, because it "gives recognition to the role of a father".

    When a father is given time to be present during the early days of his child's life and can support his wife, it will help him feel fulfilled and satisfied.

    "This would likely translate to dads being more engaged and motivated in the workplace," Mr Goh said.

    In addition to paternity leave, Mr Phua said that OCBC Bank's in-house childcare facility, which Alicia attends, is another way the company promotes the well-being of employees' families.

    He added: "Having peace of mind knowing that my family's needs are being taken care of allows me to focus on my work and give my very best."