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Commentary: IKEA’s month-long paternity leave a shining example to be followed

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12.09.2017

SINGAPORE: IKEA’s move to offer month-long paid paternity leave is an exciting move in a public-private partnership to help strengthen families and encourage male employees to get involved in raising their children.

Many countries around the world have implemented various family-friendly policies. Paternity leave aims at increasing gender equity at home and in the workplace, and help fathers achieve a better balance between work and family.

Research also shows that when fathers take paternity leave, their relationships with their children strengthen, thus improving the well-being of children.

FROM EUROPE TO ASIA

Paternity leave was first initiated in Europe. Belgium and Luxembourg were the first two countries to introduce paternity leave entitlements in the 1960s, followed by Sweden and Denmark in the 1980s, and other countries, such as Austria, Finland, Norway and Poland in the 1990s.

About two-thirds of OECD countries have paternity leave entitlements today.

In recent years, East Asian countries have started to offer paternity leave. Since the 1990s, economic growth has slowed down for many Asian economies considerably. Population related problems such as ageing, ultra-low fertility rates and declining marriage rates are threatening their economic sustainability. So governments have started to roll out policies to reform workplace structures and shift mindsets in a bid to boost marriage and fertility rates.

It seems in Asia, men identify strongly with their breadwinner role. Long work hours keep many of them from spending more time with their children.

Asian fathers are comparatively less involved in their child’s birth compared to their western counterparts, despite the equally high participation of women in the labour market in many countries. Asian fathers are also considerably less involved than mothers, when it comes to caregiving and providing emotional support.

Since the policy came into effect on Jan 1, 27 employees among the 2,400 IKEA staff in the region have benefited, including 14 dads in Singapore.........

© Channel NewsAsia