If you are a parent, you would definitely have sat up and listened when the news showed MP Louis Ng asking in Parliament for Childcare leave to be pegged to the number of children one has. And then you go “Woohoo! Gimme more leave!”
I tell you why that is a stupid idea, simply because if implemented, this means that every person with kids will be sidestepped during job applications. In fact, I can totally see HR slipping in the question “No. of children” in the application form. And then at the backend, discreetly sort out those with more children.
Can you blame companies for this? Especially SMEs, when every worker counts towards the bottom-line, more childcare leave to add on to maternity and paternity leave simply does not make any sense to hire that worker compared to others who do not come with the same baggage.
Sure, it is easy for Mr-fight-for-wildlife-rights Louis Ng to say this, because it gets all the mamas going “hear hear!” and gain some popularity votes. Totally a low hanging fruit to say what the people want to hear without thought for consequence. In the long run, if you, mummies and daddies, cannot get a job because you are entitled to 24 days of childcare leave by virtue of having 4 kids, then please remember to take your hammer and go after MP Ng, or ask him to provide a job with that generous offer in Acres to you okay?
As the nation braces itself for a reduction in the dependency ratio ceiling, i.e. cut foreign workers quota to provide jobs for Singaporeans, employers are literally being arm-twisted to hire Singaporeans for these jobs. And then you want to come and rub some salt to the wound by suggesting that these Singaporeans will get entitled to more and more leave. And we wonder why Singaporeans lose out their jobs to “foreign talents”. It is not that they are talented. They just come cheaper and are less demanding.
Oh yah, you can even say let the state pay for that childcare leave, but for companies, it isn’t just about who foot that bill, but the disruption to the work of the company and even production lines that will stick a nail in the coffin for them, so can you blame them for not being sympathetic towards those who have many mouths to feed? It is a dog-eat-dog world, and a company is not a charity after all.
Mr Ng is a emotional parliamentarian, and thrives on making such heart-on-sleeve speeches that may win some voters over for his bid for a second term in office. However, we did wish he could weigh the pros and cons carefully before making such suggestions, for it may well backfire in the faces of the very people whose rights he is fighting for.