Maternity Leave

I met up with my cousin who stays in Norway and is back in Singapore for a short while. She has two kids which is about the same age as Zai and Loi. So we were talking also about breast feeding. That’s where I thought she is a SAHM since her updates on her FB suggested so. But I was quite shock to know that she is actually a FTWM. Its just she has 1 year maternity leave! Although she is only paid 80% of her pay during that one year.

I was quite surprise to hear that. Ok, I’m sua ku. I have heard of half a year maternity leave but 1 year is the first time for me. It doesn’t matter that I’m only getting 80% of my pay, its all well worth it.

First, breast feeding becomes so much easier. There is no need to worry about “expressing” it out, since you can always latch the baby. Even if baby doesn’t sleep through it doesn’t matter, cause you can rest the next day. I have know of a few Mummies who gave up breast feeding cause they are returning to work. Either their employer is not so supportive or they find it too tiring to breast feed and work at the same time. Imagine if they have a year of maternity leave, they can breast feed the baby to 1 year old. Which is the aim I’m working towards now.

Secondly, you won’t miss important milestones of your child. Personally, I didn’t get to see Zai do his first flip to his tummy. I was lucky that Loi did it on a weekend. I didn’t get to see both my kids having their first “solid” food. Didn’t get to see Zai taking his first step. All because I was working.

Next it resolves the problem of finding a care giver. I am lucky that my MIL is willing to give up her job to help take care of my kids. Well, MIL-DIL problem aside, I am really appreciative of her kindness. But for those who is not so fortunate, will end up sending their kids to infant care or leaving it with the domestic helper. Putting in infant care to me at such a young age is really “dangerous”. I mean when I told people I sent Zai to child care at the young age of 20 months, already most people think I’m crazy. So for a receptive person like me I really think that sending kids to infant care is really not ideal. Cost aside the exposure to “germs” at such a young age is really not so ideal. Ok, 12 months its not alot but certainly beat a 4 month old right?

Leaving with the helper is another story yet again. Around my area there are lots of parents who leave their young kids with the helper. I have brought Zai down to the playground on a weekday (and weekends too) and saw a group of helpers gathering at the playground with the kids. The kids played on their own while the helpers sit and chat. Some of the kids are even younger than Zai. Is it really that safe?

Of course I understand in the competitive industry of Singapore, letting a female worker go on year leave is highly impossible. Maybe for certain jobs like teaching, where they can find a relief teacher for a year its possible. But for other jobs like mine which is project base, its really difficult. If I’m away for a good one year, I am jolly well out of the project. And who is to guarantee that there will be a project waiting for me when I return back to work?

So whats your take? How long do you think a maternity leave should be?

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4 thoughts on “Maternity Leave

  1. I used to work for a Finnish company, so I had many friends who all took 1 year leave! If I’m not wrong Norwegians can take something like up to 3 years of leave (80% of pay for first year, then the percentage drops for the other 2 years?) and their job will still be guaranteed after 3 years.

    It sounds good, but of course the money has to come from somewhere, and these countries all have an extremely high taxation rate and Singapore’s low taxation rate is attractive for foreign investment, and we’ve always weary about becoming too much of a welfare state, so I don’t think that it would be a suitable arrangement for Singaporeans.

    What I do really like about the Finns is that they have pretty good work life balance, and they come to work early like 8am, really concentrate on working hard, and leave the office at 4, 5pm to spend the rest of the time with their kids. Instead of the Asian cultures which have many tea breaks, people lingering around the office till 7-8pm, just to show their bosses they’re doing work, etc.

    And I totally agree on the helper thing! Most of them are quite uninterested (can’t blame them I guess), and my own helper has been with me 1.5 years, and I wouldn’t dare to leave my 2 boys with her if I have to work FT – and that is after 1.5 years of me being around! So I can’t imagine what kind of standards other maids have when they only have 2 weeks of training….

    1. Yup, it seems to be an Asian culture that in order to show that you are working you need to do OT. But I’m quite lucky that my work allows me to leave on time most of the time. And OT is not a very popular culture her. 🙂 And my work can’t really be brought home, so that means I get to spend more times with my kids. So I guess I’m still quite lucky.

      And yes I agree with you on the “price” to pay for the long maternity leave. Which is why much as I’m envious, I still think it is highly unlikely it would be implemented in Singapore.

  2. It’s true that generally European countries have generous maternity leave but like mummy Ed says, their taxation is super high too. That’s why many in Europe end up rather not working and take social welfare or just work part time. So I think there needs to be a good balance. What I would like to see though, is more paternity leave. We have in SG now is really, really pathetic. So you can’t really blame the husbands for not doing more. The culture here doesn’t support it. So I think it’s really up to us to work around it – that’s why I’m seeing more and more moms trying to fight for flexiwork/telework arrangements, or becoming WAHMs etc.

    1. Yes paternal leave is another whole lot of issues. 6 days is not enough at all. A child care centre closes about 4 times a year. That means already 4 days from the paternal leave gone. And how about periods where they fall ill? Worst whether you have 1 kid, 2 kids or more its still 6 days. Like now I have 2 kids. If base on the maths above, they can only fall sick once a year each. Not like I want my kids to fall sick, but its so common in kids at this age. And this is base on the calculation of the kid is sick only for a day. I guess I just have to pile my kids with vitamins to boost their immune system.

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