When working couples have a child, the time off right before and after the birth is imperative for recovery and bonding with your newborn. For this reason, companies typically provide maternity and/or paternity leave. In Singapore, maternity leave is government-regulated, which means that every employer has to follow guidelines surrounding eligibility, time off and payment. Our guide will help you navigate these regulations so you can be well informed and enter the new chapter of your life feeling confident.
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Types of Maternity Leave in Singapore
There are two types of maternity leave available to Singaporean working mothers (including self-employed mothers). The first is Government-Paid Maternity Leave (GPML), which lasts 16 weeks and provides payment. The second type of maternity leave is 12 weeks under the Employment Act.
For the GMPL, your employer will pay you 100% of your monthly salary while you are on leave. Afterwards, they will apply for reimbursement from the government. However, there are limits to how much the government will pay based on the number of children you have. For your 1st and 2nd child, there is a cap of S$10,000 per 4 weeks for maternity leave weeks 9-16. If you are expecting your 3rd child, then there is a cap of S$10,000 cap per 4 weeks for all 16 weeks of maternity leave. You can start your maternity leave 4 weeks before your delivery date. Your maternity leave will be structured in 2 segments of 8 weeks each. The first 8 weeks must be taken in one continuous block. The last 8 weeks can be taken as arranged with your employer.
The Employment Act provides 12 weeks of leave. If eligible, your employer will pay your salary for the first 8 weeks of leave and the remaining 4 weeks will be unpaid. If you don't give your employer at least 1 week's notice, then you will only receive half of the payment during the maternity leave.
Maternity Leave Eligibility
You are qualified for GPML if your child is a Singaporean citizen, you are legally married to the child's father or you have been working at your position continuously for at least 3 months. You will also still be eligible for GPML even if you experienced a stillbirth.
If you are a foreign worker or permanent resident working in Singapore and your child is not a Singaporean citizen, then you will qualify for the 12 weeks of leave under the Employment Act with the first 8 weeks paid. If you did not work for 3 continuous months then you will only be eligible for unpaid leave.
In both cases, you should let your employer know at least 1 week before starting your leave to avoid any issues with payment eligibility.
Types of Paternity Leave in Singapore
Fathers in Singapore may be eligible for 4 weeks of shared parental leave and 2 weeks of paid paternity leave under the Government-Paid Paternity Leave (GPPL). The shared parental leave allows you, as a working father, to apply to share up to 4 weeks of your wife's 16 weeks of GPML.
The GPPL is a government scheme that allows fathers to take 2 paid weeks off. Each week of GPPL is capped at S$2,500 including CPF contributions. The 2 weeks paid off can be in addition to the 4 weeks of shared parental leave. The 2 weeks of paid leave is by default taken within 16 weeks after the birth of the child. However, you and your employer can negotiate to take the leave for 2 weeks any time within a year after your child is born or split the 2 weeks into working days and take them off in any combination within a year of your child's birth.
Paternity Leave Eligibility
You are eligible for GPPL paternity leave if your child is a Singaporean citizen, you have been lawfully married to the child's mother between conception and birth, and you have worked at your job for at least 3 continuous months the child is due to be born.
You are entitled to shared parental leave if your child is a Singapore citizen, you are lawfully married to the child's mother and she qualifies for GMPL.
Other Family Support Programmes
There are several other programmes available to new families in Singapore that can provide additional monetary benefits to help you grow a nest egg and support your children.
- Unpaid Infant Care: You are entitled to 6 days a year of unpaid leave. If your child is younger than 2 years of age and is a Singapore citizen.
- Paid Childcare Leave: You are entitled to 6 days of paid childcare leave if your child is under 2 years of age and is a Singapore citizen, in addition to the 6 days of unpaid leave.
- Adoption Leave for Mothers: Parents who are adopting an infant are eligible for 12 weeks of adoption leave taken within 12 months of the child's birth.
- Maternity Protection for Pregnant Employees: Former employers are required to pay maternity leave benefits to pregnant women who were fired without sufficient cause during their pregnancy.
- Baby Support Grant: To help parents cope with the financial hardship brought on by COVID-19, eligible parents will receive a one-off Baby Support Grant of $3,000 for children born between 1 Oct 2020 and 30 Sep 2022.
- Baby Bonus Scheme: A combination of a cash gift and a Child Development Account (CDA) co-savings scheme for Singapore citizen children. For the Baby Bonus Cash Gift, the first two eligible children born will receive S$8,000 each, while the 3rd and subsequent children will receive S$10,000. Payments are spread out over a period of months. The CDA provides S$3,000 (CDA First Step) and then every dollar deposited into the account will receive a dollar matched by the government up to a cap based on the birth order of the child and the age.
In addition to government schemes, there are other resources expecting families can consider to make their lives a little bit easier. For instance, maternity insurance is a good, fairly inexpensive option to protect expecting mothers against unpredictable and expensive medical costs relating to their pregnancies and newborns. Furthermore, endowment insurance for education savings can provide a nest egg for your children's education.