Eligibility for Maternity Leave in Singapore
Working mothers in Singapore are eligible for either 16 weeks of Government-Paid Maternity leave or 12 weeks of maternity leave. The selection of either option is dependent on the following set of criteria, whether:
- The child is a Singaporean citizen
- The marriage status of the parents
- The child has been born after January 1st 2017
- The mother has worked for an employer or been self-employed for a continuous period of at least 3 months before the birth of the child
12 Weeks of Maternity leave
If certain criteria have not been met, such as the child is not a Singaporean citizen or the mother has not been employed /self-employed for at least 3 months before the birth, mother will be entitled to 12 weeks maternity leave. A further requirement for this type of maternity leave is that the mother must be covered by the Employment Act (the act that regulates employment matters in Singapore).
How it works
The first 8 weeks of maternity leave is usually paid by an employer if:
- The mother has worked for a continuous period of at least 3 months prior to the birth of the child.
- The mother has less than 2 living children of her own at the time of delivery. In the case of multiple births, like twins, during the mother’s first pregnancy, an employer is still required to pay for 8 weeks of maternity leave for the subsequent pregnancy.
- The mother has provided the employer with a possible delivery date and provided notice at least 1 week prior to taking maternity leave. If the mother fails to do so, she will only be entitled to half the payment during the maternity leave, unless she is able to provide a valid reason for failure to do so.
An employer is not obliged to pay for the last 4 weeks of maternity leave and it is therefore unpaid. However, an employer can pay for the last 4 weeks depending on the terms of the employment contract.
16 Weeks of Maternity leave
A mother is entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave if the following requirement have been met:
- The child is a Singapore citizen.
- If a mother is self-employed and she has been engaged in her work for a period of at least 3 months and she has lost income during the period of maternity leave.
- If a mother is an employee and she has been employed for a continuous period of at least 3 months prior to the birth of a child.
- The mother has provided the employer with a possible date of delivery and at least 1 weeks’ notice before going on maternity leave. If the mother fails to do so, she may only be entitled to half the leave, unless she provides good reason for not giving the notice.
First and second birth
For the first and second birth:
- The first 8 weeks are paid by the employer
- The last 8 weeks will be reimbursed by government
Third birth onward
From the third birth onward:
- The full 16 weeks will be reimbursed by the government
Foreigner or Permanent Resident Working in Singapore
Foreigners and permanent residents in Singapore are entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave, regardless of their nationality. The requirements for a person to qualify for maternity leave are:
- She must be covered by the Employment Act.
- She must have been employed for a continuous period of at least 3 months with an employer.
A foreigner or permanent resident may qualify for 16 weeks of government-paid maternity leave if the child is a Singaporean citizen and the previously mentioned eligibility criteria can be met.
Temporary, Part-Time and Probation Employees
Employees who are temporary or part-time are entitled to maternity leave if they meet the eligibility criteria. Such employees will be paid according to the daily gross rate they would have received under their contract.
Employees who are still on probation are also entitled to maternity leave if they meet the eligibility criteria and they been working for the employer for at least 3 months prior to the birth of the child.
Maternity Leave and Pregnancy Complications
Premature birth – mothers are entitled to maternity leave if they meet the eligibility criteria. Maternity leave should start on the birth date or before, if there is a mutual agreement with the company.
Stillbirth – a person is entitled to full maternity leave if the child is stillborn or dies a short while after birth. The stillbirth will not count in determining the eligibility of a mother for maternity leave benefits for the subsequent deliveries.
Miscarriage or abortion – in the case of miscarriage or abortion, an employee is not eligible for maternity leave, however they are able to take sick leave to recover.
Protection for Employees During Maternity Leave
If an employer terminates or retrenches an employees during pregnancy, without sufficient cause, the employer is obligated to pay the maternity benefits the employee would have been eligible for. In order to qualify for this an employee must have:
- Worked for the employer for a continuous period of at least 3 months, immediately prior to the dismissal.
- Been certified as pregnant by a registered medical practitioner before receiving the notice of dismissal.
Note: An employee on maternity leave is not able to work for another employer during the maternity leave period. If an employee is found to be working for another employer, the maternity benefits may be forfeited and the employee may be dismissed.
An employer must fulfill the following obligations while an employee is on maternity leave:
- Ensure that the employee is paid during the period of her maternity leave as if she has been working.
- Cannot compel an employee to work during the first 4 weeks of her confinement
Recourse for employees
It is an offense for an employer to dismiss an employee while she is on maternity leave. During the period of pregnancy, employees are protected by law against unfair dismissal or retrenchment. If an employee has been dismissed wrongfully and they were not paid their maternity benefits, that employee can:
- File a claim for wrongful dismissal at the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management within 2 months of the birth.
- Apply for help from a union (if the employee belongs to a union).
- Seek legal assistance.
Paternity Leave in Singapore
From the 1st of January 2017, working fathers are entitled to 2 weeks of paid paternity leave. The Paternity leave is funded by the government and applies to those who are self-employed as well.
Qualification for Paternity leave
A working or self-employed father is entitled to Government paid paternity leave for a birth of his child if:
- The child is a Singapore citizen
- The father had been married to the child’s mother before birth
- For employees they must have been employed for a continuous period of at least 3 months prior to the birth of the child
- For self-employed fathers, they must have been engaged in their work activities for a period of at least 3 months prior to the birth of the child and they must have lost income during the paternity leave period.
Note: Adoptive fathers who meet the above mentioned requirements are also entitled to government paid paternity leave.
The default position is that a father takes 2 consecutive weeks of paternity leave after the birth of the child. However, it is possible for the father to make alternative arrangements, such as taking the 2 weeks at any time within the 12 months after the birth, with mutual agreement from the company. Each week of paternity leave is capped at SGD $2,500.
INS Global Can Assist Your Business in Singapore
If you would like to find out more about Singapore, check out our How to Start a Business in Singapore page. INS Global offers professional and a comprehensive set of services, to take care of all your human resource needs. If you are looking to hire staff, find the right talent or find a partner to help manage your payroll and tax administration, INS Global has the solution for your enterprise.