SINGAPORE – Nine Swedish multinational companies will be extending four-week paid paternity leaves to their employees in Singapore from 2022, instead of the mandatory two-weeks. They are all members of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, Singapore. The move is a part of the #DoubleUp challenge that aims to work towards bringing gender equality in the workplace. 

The companies that have taken the pledge include pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, fashion retailer H&M, engineering automation firm ABB, industrial manufacturer Atlas Copco, interior design brand Bolon x The Andrews Group, electrical appliances manufacturer Electrolux, supply chain management services provider Mentor Media, beauty company Oriflame and industrial supplies manufacturer SKF. 

Swedish furniture giant Ikea had first taken up the challenge in 2017 when it doubled its paid paternity leave period from two weeks to four. Currently, the legally mandated paternity leave for Singapore is two weeks, while the paid maternity leave extends to 16 weeks. 

The pledge was announced in the recently released publication ‘#candid: 100 Perspectives on Gender Equality in Singapore’ which collects the thoughts of a hundred men on gender equality. Those featured in the book include DBS Group CEO Piyush Gupta, Commonwealth Capital Group head Andrew Kwan who is also Singapore’s Ambassador to Sweden, and Lazada group chief strategy officer Magnus Ekbom. All the stories and anecdotes recounted in the book conclude that gender equality leads to happy families, prosperous businesses and a thriving society. 

The statement about the pledge made by the Chamber read, “We must continue to make strides toward ensuring women are well represented in our organisations, promoted fairly, and not penalised for taking the time they need for the essential task of giving birth. In addition, we must move towards recognising that fathers too have an important role during the early months of a child’s life. Parental leave for both mothers and fathers is one of the levers to building a more equal society.”

In the statement, the members who have undertaken the pledge also urged the broader business community to work towards building a more equitable society. The pledge will be kept open till March 8, 2022 by the chamber.