Changing the narrative for working fathers in Singapore

Despite nearly half of fathers not taking paternity leave, Sodexo is committed to changing this trend with supportive policies and open communication.
By: | June 14, 2024

With Fathers’ Day just around the corner, it is a timely reminder of the vital role fathers play in their children’s lives. However, research conducted by the National Population and Talent Division of Singapore, and echoed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah at the Population Association of Singapore conference, highlighted a concerning trend: nearly half of all fathers do not utilise their allotted paternity leave. This underutilisation can stem from a variety of factors, including workplace anxieties and outdated gender norms.

Sodexo, a provider of food services and facilities management, is committed to changing this narrative. They recognise the importance of fathers taking an active role in childcare and are actively working to dismantle the barriers preventing them from doing so.

“At Sodexo, we recognise the importance of addressing this issue,” Bajirao Nawale, HR Director for Sodexo Malaysia and Singapore, told HRM Asia. Sodexo’s commitment to employee wellbeing is evident in its global employee benefits programme, Vita by Sodexo. The programme offers 16 weeks of paid parental leave for primary caregivers, exceeding the minimum mandated benefit in Singapore.

This extended leave allows new parents valuable time to bond with their newborns. Sodexo further recognises the importance of supporting secondary caregivers by providing them with two weeks of paid leave. Additionally, the organisation offers five days of family care leave, providing flexibility for unexpected circumstances. “This policy is part of our commitment to the personal, financial, and family wellbeing of our employees,” Nawale added.

Sodexo understands that generous leave policies are only effective if employees feel comfortable utilising them. The organisation actively engages with its workforce through various communication channels to ensure employees are aware of their benefits and dispel any anxieties they may have about taking leave. By creating a culture of open communication, Sodexo normalises leave-taking and dismantles the stigma often associated with it, particularly for fathers.

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Sodexo’s leadership team plays a crucial role in promoting work-life balance, Nawale said. Senior members taking paternity leave sends a powerful message throughout the organisation, reinforcing the organisation’s commitment to supporting families. This visibility from senior leadership encourages all employees to feel supported in utilising their leave entitlements.

“Sodexo offers flexible working arrangements for all employees, enabling them to manage their family responsibilities effectively,” Nawale concluded. “Through implementing and enacting structured policies, leading by example and having open discussions, we strive to normalise the use of paternity leave and embed inclusivity and support in our workplace.”