Best Paternity Leave Guide in Singapore: 11 Must-Knows For Employers

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There’s often a lot of confusion surrounding paternity leave. How much paternal leave can fathers take in Singapore? Can self-employed men qualify? Is it paid or unpaid? Do foreigners qualify? Can employers deny paternity leave? Just like in the previous article we did on maternity leave, we’ll demystify these questions, and more. We’ll discuss:

  1. What is paternity leave?
  2. Who is entitled to paternity leave in Singapore?
  3. Paternity leave vs maternity leave
  4. How much paternity leave must employers provide?
  5. How much must employers pay for paternity leave?
  6. When can employees take paternity leave?
  7. Can employers seek reimbursement for paternity leave?
  8. Can employers terminate employees on paternity leave?
  9. Can employers deny employees paternity leave?
  10. Can fathers share parental leave with their wives?
  11. How should employers support soon-to-be fathers?

#1. What is paternity leave?

Paternity leave is a guaranteed employment right in Singapore, for fathers whdio qualify. The right to paternity leave is an condified in the Employment Act. This means that as an employer, you must grant paternity leave to your male employees who are expecting children. It is illegal to deny this leave, and punishments can range from a fine to jail time. Self-employed fathers can also claim paternity leave, subject to certain conditions.

Along with maternity leave, paternity leave is an important part of social policy to encourage childbirth. It helps working parents balance their commitments at home and at work, particularly during the crucial period when a child is newly born.

#2. Who is entitled to paternity leave in Singapore?

For fathers to be entitled to paternity leave, they must satisfy the all of the 3 following criteria:

  1. His child must be a Singapore citizen, AND
  2. He must either be currently married to the child’s mother, or have previously been married to the child’s mother from conception till the child’s delivery, AND
  3. He must have worked for his employer, or been self-employed for at least 3 months before the child’s delivery

Let’s unpack these points so we get a better understanding of who does or doesn’t qualify for paternity leave.

Criteria 1 – Child’s citizenship:

An employee will fulfill this criteria if his child is either a Singapore citizen by birth, or if his child becomes a citizen within 12 months of birth. A child automatically becomes a Singapore citizen from birth if they are born in Singapore, and at least one parent is a Singapore citizen.

Since paternity leave has to be consumed within 12 months of the child’s birth, realistically, the child has to become a citizen within 11 months after birth if the father still wants to take paternity leave.

Criteria 2 – Marriage:

Paternity leave is different from maternity leave in that the father must currently be, or have been, married to the child’s mother.

Marital status of male employee Paternity leave eligibility
Currently married to child’s mother Eligible
Currently divorced, but was married to child’s mother from conception of child till birth Eligible
Never married to child’s mother Not eligible

 

Criteria 3 – Employment duration before child’s delivery:

Finally, the father must have been working for a company, or been self-employed, for at least 3 months before the child’s birth.

Can foreigners claim paternity leave in Singapore?

Yes. Foreigners are entitled to paid paternity leave in Singapore, as long as:

  • The child is a Singapore citizen, AND
  • They are married to their spouse or were married from child’s conception till birth, AND
  • Been employed or self-employed for at least 3 months before child’s birth

Basically, the 3 criteria outlined above.

Can fathers claim paternity leave for adopted children?

Yes. Fathers of adopted children are entitled to paid paternity leave, but they must meet certain requirements.

To qualify for paternity leave for adopted children, the following criteria must be fulfilled:

  • The child must be adopted within 1 year of of the date of the “Formal Intent to Adopt”.
  • The adopted child must be below 12 months old when the “Formal Intent to Adopt” is declared.
  • The child must be a Singapore citizen. If the child is a foreigner, at least one parent must be a Singapore citizen, and the child must acquire citizenship within 6 months of adoption.
  • The father claiming paternity leave must have worked for his employer for at least 3 months, or been self-employed for at least 3 months, before the date of declaring his formal intent to adopt

The meaning of “Formal Intent to Adopt” is as follows:

  • For adopted child who is a Singapore citizen: Formal intent is declared on the date the father files court application to adopt
  • For adopted child who is a foreigner: Formal intent is declared on the date of in-principle approval for child’s Dependent Pass

Adoption paternity leave can start when the employee declares their formal intent to adopt. This means that adoption leave can begin from the following dates:

  • Date of filing of the court application to adopt (for children who are Singapore citizens), or
  • Date of in-principle approval for a Dependent Pass (for children who are foreigners)

Similar to maternity leave, the entire 2-weeks of adoption paternity leave must be utilised before the child turns 1-year old. Any unused paternity leave will expire after the child turns 1.

#3. Paternity leave vs Maternity leave

Here’s a helpful comparison between the two types of leave.

Paternity Leave vs Maternity Leave: Comparison Table

  Paternity leave Maternity leave
Duration 2 weeks 12 weeks to 16 weeks, depending on various criteria
Child’s citizenship as eligibility criteria Singapore citizen only

 

 

If child is foreigner/PR: No paternity leave

If child is Singapore Citizen: Up to 16 weeks of leave

 

If child is foreigner/PR: Up to 12 weeks of leave

Marriage as eligibility criteria Yes

 

Must be, or had been, lawfully married to child’s mother from conception of child to birth

No

 

No need to be, or have been, lawfully married to child’s father

Employment duration as eligibility criteria Yes

 

3 months minimum before child’s birth

Yes

 

3 months minimum before child’s birth

Foreigner/PR paid leave eligibility Foreigners and PRs can apply for paternity leave Foreigners and PRs can apply for maternity leave
Paid vs unpaid leave Paid only If employee has worked for employer for under 3 months before childbirth, unpaid

 

Otherwise all other maternity leave is paid

Can employers claim reimbursement for paid paternity/maternity leave Yes Yes. Must meet certain criteria.
Maximum amount of paid leave $2,500 per week $10,000 for every 4 weeks (which is equal to $2,500 per week)
Does employer reimbursement increase with more children No Yes, reimbursable amount increases from 8 weeks to 16 weeks from employee’s 3rd child onwards

 

#4. How much paternity leave must employers provide?

Employers must provide 2 weeks of paid paternity leave, to employees who qualify.

Does paternity leave include weekends? What days should be counted?

Paternity leave includes weekends, rest days, and non-working days. Essentially, it’s all the days in a calendar.

#5. How much do employers have to pay for paternity leave?

Use the formula below:

Number of working days per week * weekly salary

The maximum paid paternity leave rate is $2,500 per week, including CPF contributions. Fathers can only be paid for a maximum of 6 work days per week, even if they normally work for 7 days per week.

Example: Mike works for your company. His monthly salary, including CPF, is $4,000. His regular work days are Monday to Friday (5 days per week). He takes 2 weeks of paternity leave to care for his newborn. You must pay Mike $2,000 for his 2 weeks of paternity leave.

#6. When can employees take paternity leave?

MOM has published guidelines on when paternity leave should be taken.

Duration Mutual Agreement
A 2-week continuous block. Must be taken within 16 weeks of child’s delivery. No requirement for mutual agreement between employee and company
Flexible leave, taken through the year. Must be consumed within 12 months of child’s birth.

 

OR

 

A 2-week continuous block. Taken after 16 weeks of child’s delivery, but within 12 months of child’s birth.

Must have mutual agreement between employee and company

 

If your employee wishes to take paternity leave in a single block within 16 weeks (4 months) of their child’s birth, they don’t need to reach a mutual agreement with their company. Remember, paternity leave is an entitlement, after all.

However, if the employee wants to schedule their paternity leave on an ad-hoc basis through the year, then they’ll have to get their company to agree to this. For instance, some fathers may want to spread their 2 weeks of leave bit by bit through the year. This way, they have more flexibility to quickly relieve their spouses or other caretakers looking after the child.

Self-employed fathers

Self-employed fathers can use their paid paternity leave at any time within 12 months of their children’s birth (or adoption), depending on their work commitments. For self-employed fathers, they must show proof they have lost income during their paternity leave

#7. Can employers seek reimbursement for paid paternity leave?

Yes. Under the Government Paid Paternity Leave (GPPL) scheme, the government will compensate businesses for the 2 weeks of leave pay.

Businesses must pay their employees’ the paternity leave compensation first, then file a claim for reimbursement with the government.

#8. Can employers terminate employees on paternity leave?

The ability to terminate workers on parental leave is a common question that employers have. The answer is the same for both paternity and maternity leave, and that is: it depends on the reason for termination.

Terminating an employee on paternity leave is a serious matter. It can only be done for just or sufficient cause. Examples of such causes include:

  1. Termination due to misconduct: E.g. Fraud, theft, insubordination
  2. Termination due to performance: Poor performance at work
  3. Termination due to redundancy: The position is no longer required

Sometimes, employers may have self-centered reasons for wanting to remove employees who are on paternity leave. For instance, some companies may want to save on paying the worker salary while on paternity leave. It’s important to take note that the following reasons for termination of a worker on paternity leave is not allowed:

  1. Termination to deprive employee of entitlements
  2. Termination due to discrimination: e.g. age, parental commitments, marital status, etc.
  3. Termination to take revenge on employee: e.g. firing someone after they file a legal claim against you

Companies cannot terminate employees to deprive them of entitlements or benefits. Paternity leave is one such entitlement. If a company does so, those responsible can be charged with an offence.

What happens to paternity leave benefits if the employee resigns?

Any remaining paternity leave benefits are forfeited. If the employee is joining another company, there can be no transfer of paternity leave benefits from one company to the next.

#9. Can employers deny paternity leave?

No. Paternity leave is an employment right that is enshrined in Singapore law. It is not merely a benefit that can be taken away as one pleases. Employers must grant paternity leave to employees who request it. The precise dates and scheduling of paternity leave can always be discussed between employer and employee, but it is illegal for employers to deny this right.

Penalties for denying paternity leave

Employers who deny eligible employees from accessing their paid paternity leave will face serious consequences. Offenders may be jailed up to 12 months, and/or fined up to $10,000.

#10. Can fathers share parental leave with their wives?

In Singapore, husbands can tap into their wives’ maternity leave. This is useful, since maternity leave can be up to 16 weeks long, while paternity leave is 2 weeks long. Your employee can use up to 4 weeks of their wife’s paid maternity leave. This allows for a more equal sharing of parenting responsibilities between dads and mums.

Example: John and Tricia have just had a child. Tricia qualifies for 16 weeks of maternity leave. Tricia wants to get back to work quicker, so John steps in shoulder more childcare responsibilities. John taps into 4 weeks of Tricia’s maternity leave. This gives John 6 weeks of paternity leave. Tricia now has 12 weeks of maternity leave remaining.

The qualification criteria for shared parental leave are:

  1. The child’s father must qualify for paid paternity leave, and
  2. The child’s mother must qualify for paid maternity leave, and
  3. The child must be a Singapore citizen

The compensation for shared parental leave (for dads) is the same as paid paternity leave. It’s a maximum of $2,500 per week, including CPF contributions.

#11. How should I support my employees who are about to become fathers?

It’s an exciting but stressful time for workers who are about to become dads. Employers should try to support their soon-to-be-fathers. Here are some helpful tips that you can implement to make your workers feel more supported:

  1. Create support groups: Organise the people in your company who’ve experienced fatherhood. Have them link up with their colleagues who are about to become fathers themselves. It’s a great way for first-time dads to learn from their more experienced colleagues about the joys and challenges of being a working dad. Also, such support groups can help create a more tight-knit company culture.
  2. Be understanding: Juggling fatherhood and work life isn’t easy. Babies could have medical emergencies. Stress at home could eat into work. Whatever the case, it’s a good idea to be more understanding of your employee’s circumstances. If someone’s just had a child, and maybe they made a mistake at work, it’s a good idea to empathise rather than criticize. Constructive feedback paired with empathy can help you build long-term loyalty between your company and your dad-employees.

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