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How long is paternity and maternity leave in Singapore?

Undoubtedly, becoming parents for the first time is an emotional roller-coaster of an experience. There are heaps of things to prepare for, from naming your baby, and having prenatal check-ups to choosing the delivery method and getting health insurance for your newborn child. It honestly doesn’t surprise us when parents are stressed and nervous. Luckily, Singapore is a city that protects basic employment rights. Mandated by law, all employers must provide parental leave so that new parents can spend quality time bonding with their infants. In this feature from Pacific Prime Singapore, we are going to highlight just how long parental leave in Singapore parents are entitled to, and whether it differs between a Singapore citizen or an expat, married or unmarried, working for an employer or self-employed.

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Current maternity leave entitlement

Pregnant female employees are entitled to 12-16 weeks of maternity leave, depending on the following criteria.

  • Your child is a Singaporean citizen. (A child will automatically become a Singapore citizen from birth if the child is born in Singapore and at least one parent is also a Singapore citizen).
  • You have worked for your employer for at least 90 days before the birth of your child.

Government-Paid Maternity Leave (GPML) scheme

Met both of the criteria above? You are entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, to be taken up to four weeks before giving birth and 12 weeks post-birth, regardless of your marital status. The last eight weeks of maternity leave can be flexible – you just need to work together with your employer to come up with a mutually acceptable plan.

Both the employer and the government will be involved in paying the salary of an employee on maternity leave. The first eight weeks will be paid by the employer, while the employer can claim reimbursement for salary payments from the government for the last eight weeks of maternity leave. However, if this is your third or subsequent birth, the employer can claim the full 16 weeks from the government.

It is also important to note that if you are expecting twins or more at one time, this will still count as a single birth in terms of parental leave in Singapore, and mothers won’t receive double maternity leaves.

For those who have been self-employed for at least 90 days before the baby’s arrival, you can enjoy 16 weeks of maternity leave as long as you are a Singapore citizen, and have lost income during the maternity leave period. The net trade income, over the 12 months before the birth of her child, will be used to calculate the government reimbursement.

Employment Act (EA) scheme

Mothers who only fulfill the second criteria listed above are entitled to 12 weeks of leave. One special exception is if your child becomes a Singapore citizen within 12 months of their birth, then you’ll be able to take any remaining maternity leave, including the extended GPML.

Leave can be taken up to four weeks before your baby is due, and for eight weeks after the baby’s arrival.

Unlike the GPML scheme, the government does not reimburse employers for salaries paid under the EA scheme. Employers are obliged to fund the first eight weeks of maternity leave, and the last four weeks may count as unpaid leave. Whether the employer will pay for the last four weeks depends on the terms of the employment contract between the employer and employee.

Another major discrepancy between the two schemes is that self-employed moms under the EA scheme do not qualify for maternity leave.

Current paternity leave entitlement

All working dads, citizens, PRs, and foreigners are eligible for two weeks of paid paternity leave as long as they meet the following requirements:

  • The baby is a Singapore citizen.
  • The father has been married to a Singapore citizen between conception and birth.
  • The father has worked for his employer for a continuous period of at least three months before the birth of the child, or he has been self-employed for a continuous period of at least 3 months before the birth of the child, and has not lost income during the paternity leave period.

Government-Paid Paternity Leave (GPPL)

To be eligible for government-paid paternity leave, your child must meet all the above three criteria. If your child is not a Singapore citizen, you may check with your employer to see whether they can provide company-paid paternity leave. The GPPL can be taken continuously as a 2-week block within 16 weeks after the birth of your child. Alternatively, you can also take yours over the course of 12 months from the birth of your child. Government reimbursement is capped at SGD $2,500 per week, inclusive of CPF contributions.

Take note: Remember to declare your eligibility to your employer before you apply for GPPL through your company’s usual leave-taking procedures.

Shared parental leave in Singapore

Working fathers, including self-employed ones, are entitled to share up to four weeks of his wife’s 16-week maternity leave (with her consent, of course) under the following conditions:

  • The baby is a Singapore citizen.
  • The child’s mother qualifies for Government-Paid Maternity Leave (GPML).
  • The man has been lawfully married to the child’s mother.

No matter what kind of parental leave in Singapore you apply for, be sure to give your employer at least one week’s notice beforehand. For mothers-to-be, inform your employer as soon as possible of your delivery. Otherwise, you will be entitled to only half the payment during your maternity leave, unless you have a good reason for not giving notice.

One final bit of advice

The parental benefits system in Singapore is indeed complicated, as is often the case globally. The same goes for insurance for pregnant women and newborn babies. Secure maternity insurance today to offset the costs of the childbirth process, which can be incredibly expensive!

If you are thinking about starting a family, you should know your insurance terms, so you can plan accordingly. For example, all maternity insurance plans come with waiting periods that must expire before you can file for claims. Check out our insightful maternity insurance guide for answers to all things maternity insurance. Short on time? See our infographic for five things you should know about maternity insurance!

With over 20 years of experience and nine offices around the globe, Pacific Prime Singapore specializes in providing clients with insurance products that suit their needs. No matter where you are in the world, you should have access to the best medical treatment with international health insurance. Contact our team of expert insurance advisors today for impartial recommendations! Alternatively, check out our online quotation system for a free quote!

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Singapore
Anthony Chan is a content writer at Pacific Prime. He’s responsible for writing, translating, and editing articles, guides, infographics, leaflets, as well as other resources for Pacific Prime and Kwiksure.

When he’s not working, he’s usually on the hunt for great restaurants, playing badminton, and writing screenplays.