According to the 2017 Persons Outside the Labour Force report, there were 10,500 male residents who did not work because they were helping out with housework, childcare and care-giving to families and relatives. Indeed, the number of stay-at-home dads in Singapore has grown over the years.
As more companies embrace gender equality, more women have entered and remained in the workforce. According to the Ministry of Manpower, the Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) for women has increased from 54.2% in 2007 to 59.8% in 2017. For women aged between 25-64, the LFPR has increased 71.6% in 2007 to 80.8% in 2017.
More career women are also progressing to top leadership positions in Singapore, though there is much room for improvement. As of June 2016, 9.7% of executive board positions in Singapore were held by women, up from 8% in 2012.
This means that more women are earning the same income or even more than their husbands. On top of that, thanks to government incentives which encourage mothers to continue working, it might make better financial sense for dads to stay home compared to mums.
Here are 4 reasons why it pays more to be a stay-at-home dad.
# 1 Working Mother’s Child Relief
According to IRAS, working mothers are entitled to the Working Mother’s Child Relief if their child is a Singapore citizen. Depending on the number of children they have, this relief can reduce their income tax substantially.
For example, for a mother with two children, 35% of her earned income would not be subject to any income tax. Assuming her income is $60,000 a year, this relief would reduce her taxable income by $21,000. Excluding other deductions, her income tax bill would be $515.
If the husband had worked and earned the same income, he would not be eligible for this relief, which would require him to pay $1950 of income tax, 4 times what she paid.
# 2 Additional Infant Care and Childcare Subsidies
According to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), working mothers whose household income are less than $7500/month and work more than 56 hours in a month are entitled to higher subsidies for infant care and childcare.
An annual income of $60,000 would equate to a monthly income of $5,000. This means that the working mother would have received an extra $100 monthly in Child Care subsidies and $200 in Infant Care subsidies.
If the wife had chosen to be a stay-at-home mum, the family would not have qualified for these additional subsidies.
# 3 Maternity Leave
According to the Ministry of Manpower, Singaporean working mothers are entitled to 16 weeks of fully-paid maternity leave.
This is significantly greater than working fathers, who are entitled to just 2 weeks of paternity leave.
Assuming the wife has an annual income of $60,000, the net gain will be 14 weeks of paid leave. This means the family earn approximately $16,000 more while taking care of their child.
Under this arrangement, parents can spend more quality time with their child than if the mother had chosen to be a housewife.
# 4 Foreign Maid Levy Relief
While less common, some families with a stay-at-home dad may still require the assistance of a foreign domestic helper.
According to IRAS, the Foreign Maid Levy (FML) relief is only claimable by female taxpayers have earned income. If the couple decides to hire a maid, the working mother can claim the FML relief, which is twice the levy she paid for her maid.
If they pay the concessionary rate of $60 a month, the working mother would be entitled to $1,440 of FML relief. Assuming an annual income of $60,000, this would equate to $100 of tax savings.
However, if they pay the normal rate of $265 a month, she would be entitled to $6,360 of FML relief. This would equate to $445 of tax savings.
If the wife is a stay-at-home mum, the family cannot claim this tax relief.
As the government continues to take steps to bridge the gender pay gap, it has become increasingly attractive to be a stay-at-home dad rather than a stay-at-home mum.
The government has urged men to play a bigger role in taking care of children through helping with day-to-day chores and childcare responsibilities, like cooking and feeding young children. Becoming a stay-at-home dad is one way to fill that role.
However, as Singapore’s cost of living continues to rise, relying on just the sole breadwinner may be a luxury few families can afford. This goes beyond just having a lower income, but greater financial instability given how job security isn’t as secure as it used to be.
Becoming a stay-at-home dad does not mean you have to stop working altogether. For example, Gurmit Singh, who quit his full-time entertainment job to be a stay-at-home dad in 2014, continues to perform contract work. Given how the ‘gig’ economy has improved job flexibility, stay-at-home parents can continue to establish their careers and supplement their family’s income.
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