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Top Paternity & Maternity Leave FAQs Answered So You Know Your Rights Before Taking The Time Off

Paternity & maternity leave in Singapore

You’re pregnant and you’ve started showing – it’s probably time to let your boss and colleagues know the good news so that they can arrange for someone to take over your responsibilities in the office when you go on maternity leave.

That’s because you’ll be entitled to government-paid maternity leave and paternity leave if you’ve worked for a Singapore employer for at least 3 months before your baby is born. You’re also eligible if you’ve been self-employed for that period of time. 

Here’s what you need to know so you can recover and bond with your newborn, worry free:

1. How many days of maternity leave are mums entitled to?

maternity leaveImage adapted from: Ministry of Social and Family Development

You are entitled to 16 weeks of paid quality time at home if your bub is a Singapore citizen under the Government-Paid Maternity Leave scheme. If your child is not a Singapore citizen at birth, you’re still entitled to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. This applies to both married and single mums.

If you’re a working mum and you’ve adopted a child below the age of 12 months on the date that you submitted a Formal Intention to Adopt, you’re also entitled to 12 weeks of paid adoption leave. This only applies if you’ve adopted a child according to Singapore laws – if you adopted overseas, make sure to check with a local family lawyer.

Image credit: @_atsu_kii_twins

For those with twins – it’s still considered one delivery, so unfortunately you don’t get double the amount of maternity leave.

Those who have suffered stillbirths or whose baby passed away shortly after being born are still eligible for the full period of paid maternity leave. But if they’ve had a miscarriage, they will have to take medical leave to recover and are not entitled to maternity leave. 

2. How many days of paternity leave are dads entitled to?

paternity leave
Image adapted from: Ministry of Social and Family Development

Dads, too, can spend time at home with their newborns under the Government-Paid Paternity Leave scheme. You get two weeks paternity leave if your child is a Singapore citizen, but only if you and the child’s mum were legally married before the birth of your child.

3. Can new mums and dads share parental leave?

If you’re a working mum and you can’t wait to get back to some adult conversation at the office, you can pass up to 4 weeks of your maternity leave to the hubs as shared parental leave. Then you’ll be able to go back to work and your husband can take some paid time off instead.

paternity maternity leave 2Image credit: @thesmartlocalsg

This is only if your child is a Singapore citizen and you’re eligible for paid maternity leave – not if you’re a stay-at-home mum. Mum and dad will have to be legally married before the child’s birth to qualify for this.

Dads in this scheme will have to take the shared parental leave either in one block, or in separate one-week blocks. Both husband and wife will have to mutually agree to this and apply for it together at the Government-Paid Leave portal.

4. When can I start my maternity leave?

ultrasoundImage credit: Sheri Goh

Your swollen feet and aching back will be happy to hear that you can start taking your maternity leave up to 4 weeks before your estimated due date. You can also wait till you have given birth to start your maternity leave, if you like. 

Whichever you decide, let your company know at least one week in advance if you can, unless you suddenly give birth earlier than expected.

5. Does maternity leave have an expiry date?

You’ll have to take your first 8 weeks of maternity leave in one stretch. The rest of it can be taken flexibly over the first 12 months after your baby is born. 

You don’t have to use up all the maternity leave you are entitled to, but if you don’t take it within a year, it will be forfeited. You can only recuperate from delivery and enjoy that new baby smell full-time – with your salary fully paid – for once in your kid’s life, so you’re strongly encouraged to take your full entitlement of maternity leave.

6. Can my boss ask me to come back to work early?

Even if your company says they cannot survive without you, they aren’t allowed to ask you to come back to work during the first 4 weeks after your child’s birth.

paternity maternity leave 5

After that time, or after you’ve finished the first 8 weeks of your maternity leave, you can then talk to your employer about flexible work arrangements with the rest of your maternity leave. You might want to consider working half days, or working for 2 or 3 days a week.

Read more about MOM maternity leave protections here.

7. What if I need more time off?

New parents in Singapore don’t just get paid maternity or paternity leave – if you’ve been working for your employer for more than 3 months, both working mums and dads are eligible for up to 6 days of paid childcare leave a year if their kids are below 7 years of age and are Singapore citizens. 

For kids who are not Singapore citizens, each parent can take 2 days of paid childcare leave a year. 

Additionally, if your kid is below the age of 2, you are legally entitled to take up to 6 days of unpaid infant care leave.

paternity maternity leave 4
Image credit: Kimberly Lauren Wong

If you feel that you need to take a bit more time away from work to spend with your new baby, make sure you discuss options with your employer – some companies are open to the idea of unpaid leave or sabbaticals for new parents.

Taking maternity leave or paternity leave in Singapore

Even though you might be committed to the hustle, the time just after your baby is born is a special one in which you can recuperate and bond with your new family member. You can enjoy your paid maternity or paternity leave without having to worry about the security of your job or getting the bills paid. 

More articles for new parents:

Cover image adapted from: @thesmartlocalsg