Thursday, November 24, 2011


Photo: Straits Times
Granting employees eldercare leave so they can take their elderly parents for a medical check-up or tend to them at home if they are sick is definitely a step forward in the right direction. It sends out the message that the government cares, and employers care too.

A news report in the Straits Times today quoted Singapore's Health Minister Gan Kim Yong as saying that a government committee on ageing is considering whether to make it compulsory for companies to give elder care leave.

And why not? If young mothers are allowed to take leave to look after their sick children at home, surely the same consideration can be extended to older workers who have to send their elderly parents for a medical examination or a hospital procedure.

Three weeks ago I spent almost an entire day at the hospital with my mother. She had to undergo some tests for her dementia. Being semi-retired, I could take time off to be with my mother throughout the procedure. But what if I were a full-time employee? I can imagine my boss begrudging me the leave.

Granting eldercare leave is not something new in the public sector. Government agencies like the People's Association, the Competition Commission of Singapore, the National Heritage Board, the Health Promotion Board and the Health Sciences Authority have been doing so for a few years now. The Workforce Development Agency was the first government agency to introduce elder care leave in 2004.

These agencies grant up to three days paid eldercare leave a year. The corporate sector is yet to follow suit. Unless the government makes it mandatory for companies to do so, it is unlikely that they will implement such leave of their own accord.

If charity begins at home, corporate social responsibility should begin at the workplace, right?

1 comment:

Companion for Elderly said...

Hello Dude,

Elder care activities play an important role in alleviating boredom and loneliness among the elderly. Unfortunately, some nursing homes plan programs are more suited to kindergartens than wise, experienced human beings. Thanks a lot.