Eligible fathers in Singapore with babies who are Singapore citizens born on or after 1 May 2013 are entitled to take one week of paid paternity leave. In addition, they may be able to ‘share’ one week of the mother’s 16 weeks of paid maternity entitlement, subject to eligibility and the mother’s agreement. The provisions relating to paternity leave can be found in the Child Development Co-Savings Act, Chapter 38A of Singapore.

Background

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced new rights to paternity leave and shared parental leave on 21 January 2013 as a means of fostering an overall pro-family environment in Singapore and encouraging shared parental responsibility.

Paternity leave

Under the new rules, working fathers including those who are self-employed, are entitled to one week of Government-paid paternity leave for all births provided that:

  • the child is a Singapore Citizen born on or after 1 May 2013;
  • the child’s parents are lawfully married; and
  • the father has completed a continuous period of qualifying service with his employer for at least three calendar months immediately preceding the birth of the child (different rules apply to self-employed fathers).

The paternity leave must be taken within 16 weeks after the birth of the child. Alternatively, it can be taken flexibly (i.e. in a non-continuous manner) within 12 months after the birth, by mutual agreement between the employer and employee.

The one week of paid paternity leave will be funded by the Government and is capped at SGD2,500 including CPF contributions.

Shared parental leave

From 1 May 2013, working fathers can also ‘share’ a week of a working mother’s maternity leave. Under this arrangement, the mother may reduce her leave to 15 weeks and the father may take two weeks of leave (including the one week of paid paternity leave). This new right is subject to working fathers (including those who are self-employed) satisfying the following conditions:

  • the child is a Singapore Citizen born on or after 1 May 2013;
  • the mother qualifies for 16 weeks of Government-paid maternity leave;
  • the child’s parents are lawfully married; and
  • the child’s mother agrees to ‘share’ the leave.

Shared parental leave is to be taken as a continuous block within 12 months of the birth of the child. Alternatively, by mutual agreement between the employer and employee, the leave can be taken flexibly within 12 months of the birth of the child.

The one week of shared parental leave will be funded by the Government and is capped at SGD2,500 including CPF contributions.

Implications for employers

Many large multinational employers will already make provision for paternity leave in either the contract of employment or by way of company policy. However, shared parental leave is less commonplace, particularly as it is dependent upon spousal entitlements.

Employers should review their current policies and practices to ensure that they at least comply with minimum standards and have the necessary mechanisms in place to process and verify new leave requests, as well as claim government reimbursements where available.