Standard Chartered improves parental leave policy

Regardless of gender, employees who are parents are offered 20 weeks of paid leave to encourage a balanced approach to parenting.
By: | September 14, 2023

Standard Chartered Bank has embarked on a transformative journey towards fostering a more inclusive and equitable workplace by announcing a major overhaul of its global parental leave benefits. Effective from September 1 this year, the initiative aims to provide all employees, regardless of gender, with the opportunity to take on greater caregiving responsibilities for their children, ultimately promoting a more balanced approach to parenting.

Under the newly standardised parental leave policy, all employees in Singapore will now be entitled to 20 weeks of paid parental leave. This policy marks a departure from the previous system, where female employees enjoyed 20 weeks of paid maternity leave, while male employees were eligible for just four weeks of shared parental leave upon welcoming a child to the family.

Romeo Loh, a 35-year-old Senior Relationship Manager at Standard Chartered, who is expecting his first child with his wife in September 2023, lauded the timing of this enhanced parental leave policy. Loh and his wife have made the decision not to rely on their parents or hire external help to care for their baby. Instead, they are enthusiastic about the additional leave, which will enable him to be actively involved in parenting and provide support to his wife during her confinement period.

He told HRM Asia, “We believe that the first year is very important for my son, and with the 20 weeks of leave, I will be able to spend more time with him and bring him to the various appointments, while also looking after my wife during her confinement.”

“Previously, before this announcement, I was able to share up to four weeks of my wife’s maternity leave, but I never intended to use that as I feel this should be for her to rest and recuperate fully before returning to work. And while we will have a confinement nanny, we do not intend to hire a full-time helper and neither are we thinking of asking our parents to help look after our son, as they should be enjoying playing with their grandchild at their age. Hence, the enhanced benefits will be very useful for us.”

This initiative is part of a series of progressive employee benefits introduced by Standard Chartered. In 2017, the bank was dubbed the first in Singapore to provide 20 weeks of paid maternity and adoption leave to female employees, regardless of their length of service. Additionally, the bank championed flexible working arrangements, with over 80% of its 9,000-strong workforce in Singapore currently benefitting from such flexibility.

Wong Yang-Sheng, Head of Human Resources, Standard Chartered Singapore, Australia and Brunei, concluded, “The enhanced parental leave benefit is relevant and timely in Singapore, allowing both parents to have equal opportunity to take on active parenting roles and enjoy greater family-life satisfaction and outcomes. Employee experience is a top priority and by empowering our colleagues to take control of their personal, family and professional commitments, we want to make the bank a great place to work, grow and succeed for everyone.”

Join Wong at HR Tech Fest Connect 2023, where he will be part of a panel discussion titled, Gen Z Rising in Asia: A Dynamic Force for Organisational Change, which will delve into insights on harnessing Gen Z talent and fostering inclusivity.

READ MORE: Gen Z rising in Asia: A dynamic force for organisational change 

Dr Sandhya Karpe, Human Capital Center Leader, Asia and Programme Director of Asia Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council, The Conference Board, will moderate the discussion. Joining Wong in sharing their insights are Ruth Gellert-Neale, Chief Human Resources Officer Technology, APAC and EMEA, JLL Technologies; and David Lim, SVP Human Resources, PVH Corp. To learn more about HR Tech Fest Connect and how to manage Gen Z employees, click here