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Family-friendly work environment key to attracting talent: Experts

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Unlike the majority of fathers in Singapore, Briton Jim Butcher, 44, had six months' parental leave with full pay when his youngest child Lucy was born.

Like all employees of Spotify around the world, the director of communications for Asia Pacific is entitled to take this parental leave - as a whole or split into smaller periods of time - up to his child's third birthday.

The music streaming company's generous parental leave policy, which was highlighted at a recent seminar on family-friendly workplaces, reflects a growing trend for attractive work-life balance initiatives, which many corporations now believe is key to attracting young talent.

However, other participants at the seminar, organised by the embassy of Sweden and Families For Life, noted that there are still some cultural barriers hindering the wide adoption of such practices among workers and employers here.

For example, labour unionist K. Thanaletchimi said workers who wish to take on flexible work arrangements or tap other work-life balance initiatives offered by their companies sometimes lack support from their leaders, middle management and peers.

Mr Winston Tay, co-founder of the Daddy Matters Facebook group, which promotes active fatherhood, said it is important everyone in a company embraces the same work-life ideals.

Otherwise, managers who disagree with the company's work-life initiatives might be reluctant to hire people with young families or those about to start one, as these are the people most likely to tap such benefits.

Many employers are mindful of strategising their workplace policies to support family life so as to draw and retain top talents. Families for Life Council member Sarojini Padmanathan

Spotify is a Swedish company and under that country's welfare system, parents are entitled to share 480 days of parental leave when a child is born or adopted. Women take the bulk of this parental leave, but 60 days of leave are allocated specifically to each parent.

In Singapore, fathers are entitled to two weeks paid paternity leave while mothers get 16 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Mrs Sarojini Padmanathan, a member of the Families for Life Council, an organisation that promotes strong families, said: "Many employers are mindful of strategising their workplace policies to support family life so as to draw and retain top talents.

"This is especially true in this day and age where millennials will soon make up (the majority) of the global workforce, and they expect a better work-life harmony beyond money and promotions."

She pointed to policies such as the Government's Work Life Grant, which was recently enhanced to incentivise companies and support them in the adoption of flexible work arrangements such as through flexi-time or telecommuting arrangements.

Since 2013, more than 1,500 firms have tapped the Work-Life Grant, she said.