The Government has announced significant expansions to the current leave entitlements in the Child Development Co-Savings Act ("CDCA"), which will take effect in 2017. We outline the key changes below.

Unmarried mothers entitled to maternity leave from early 2017

The 16-week statutory maternity leave benefit under the CDCA will be extended to unmarried mothers, from early 2017. Currently, only married mothers who fulfil the conditions under the CDCA are entitled to maternity leave under the CDCA. The change means that both married and unmarried mothers will be entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave, subject to the conditions under the CDCA.

Paternity leave increased from 1 January 2017

Fathers of Singapore citizen children born from 1 January 2017 will be statutorily entitled to 2 weeks of paternity leave. These 2 weeks of paternity leave will be funded by the Government.

This is an increase of 1 week from the current statutory entitlement of 1 week of paternity leave subject to the conditions under the CDCA. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced at the National Day Rally on 23 August 2015 that initial implementation of 1 additional week would be on a voluntary basis – the Government would fund the additional week if voluntarily provided by an employer. The recent announcement will soon make it mandatory for an employer to provide 2 weeks of paternity leave, subject to the conditions under the CDCA.

Shared parental leave increased from 1 July 2017

Fathers of Singapore citizen children born from 1 July 2017 will also be statutorily entitled to 4 weeks of shared parental leave. This is subject to the conditions under the CDCA which include the requirement of the mother's consent to sharing the leave (i.e. where the father takes 4 weeks of shared parental leave, the mother's maternity leave entitlement is correspondingly reduced by 4 weeks). These 4 weeks of shared parental leave will be funded by the Government.

This is an increase of 3 weeks from the current statutory entitlement of 1 week of shared parental leave, subject to the conditions under the CDCA.

Adoption leave increased from 1 July 2017

Adoptive mothers who adopt children from 1 July 2017 will be statutorily entitled to 12 weeks of adoption leave, subject to the conditions under the CDCA which include the requirement that the child be less than 1 year old. For the first 2 children adopted, the Government will fund 8 weeks of the leave. The Government will fund the full 12 weeks for the third and subsequent children adopted.

This is an increase of 8 weeks from the current statutory entitlement of four weeks of adoption leave for adoptive mothers, subject to the conditions under the CDCA.

New shared adoption leave for adoptive fathers from 1 July 2017

Adoptive fathers who adopt children from 1 July 2017 will be statutorily entitled to share 4 weeks of their spouse's adoption leave. These 4 weeks of shared adoption leave will be funded by the Government. This is a new development as the CDCA currently does not provide for sharing of adoption leave.

What this means for employers and employees

The changes announced mean more time-off for employees who meet the conditions under the CDCA:

  • Both married and unmarried mothers will be entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave;
  • Fathers will be entitled to 2 weeks of paternity leave and can share 4 weeks of their spouse's maternity leave;
  • Adoptive mothers will be entitled to 12 weeks of adoption leave; and
  • Adoptive fathers can share 4 weeks of their spouse's adoption leave.

Employers should ensure that their leave practices are revised for compliance with the upcoming statutory changes, and should adopt appropriate planning measures to minimise and prevent disruption to business operations when employees go on longer leave.