Adoption Leave in Singapore: An Essential Guide For Employees

Last updated on September 28, 2022

happy family with their baby daughter

After adopting your infant, you may wish to take leave to spend time with him/her. Adoption leave is intended to support eligible adoptive working mothers (including self-employed mothers) in caring for and bonding with their adopted infants, who are below 12 months old.

This article will cover:

If you are looking for more information on the adoption process, you may refer to this article on adoption in Singapore.

What are My Adoption Leave Entitlements?

If you are eligible for adoption leave, you can enjoy up to 12 weeks of paid leave.

For your 1st and 2nd child order, the employer will pay for the first 4 weeks of your adoption leave at your gross rate of pay. The government will then reimburse/pay for the remaining 8 weeks of your adoption leave, capped at $10,000 per 4 weeks or a total of $20,000 per child order.

For your 3rd and subsequent child order, the government will reimburse/pay for all 12 weeks of your adoption leave, capped at $10,000 per 4 weeks or a total of $30,000 per child order.

You may refer to the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) website for more information on how to determine the child order of your adopted child.

When Can My Adoption Leave Entitlements Commence?

You can enjoy your adoption leave entitlements either by default or mutual agreement, as illustrated in the table below:

By default By default, 12 weeks of adoption leave is to be taken in one continuous block, beginning from the Formal Intent to Adopt (FIA) date.
By mutual agreement  If there is mutual agreement between you and your employer, the leave can start on any date between the FIA date, and the date the Adoption Order is granted (both dates inclusive).

You may also choose to take the last 4 weeks of leave non-continuously if you and your employer have agreed on this arrangement.

In any case, regardless of whether the leave is taken continuously or non-continuously, the end date of the adoption leave should be no later than the child’s first birthday (inclusive of the date of birth).

You may refer to the following table to determine the FIA date:

Child’s citizenship at date of birth Definition of FIA date
Singapore citizen  Date when an application to adopt is submitted to the court
Not a Singapore citizen 
  • Date on which a Dependant’s Pass was issued by the MSF in respect of the child; or
  • Date of the document indicating that the application for the Dependant’s Pass has been approved.

Who is Eligible to Apply For Adoption Leave?

You are eligible to apply for adoption leave if all of the following criteria are satisfied:

  1. You applied to adopt a child in accordance with the applicable Singapore laws.
  2. You are not the natural mother of the child.
  3. Your child is below 12 months old on your FIA date.
  4. Your FIA date is on or after 1 July 2017.
  5. If your child is not a Singapore citizen on the date the adoption is made:
    • Dependent’s Pass has been issued by MSF in respect of the child; and
    • Either you or your spouse (if he is a joint applicant to the adoption) has been a Singapore citizen since the issue date of the Dependent’s Pass.
  6. If you are an employee:
    • You have been employed by your employer for a continuous period of at least 3 months before your FIA date.
  7. If you are self-employed:
    • You have been engaged in a particular trade, business, profession or vocation for a continuous period of at least 3 months before your FIA date; and
    • Have lost income from ceasing to be actively engaged during the period of your adoption leave.

For employed mothers, if you have fulfilled criteria 1 to 5 but not criteria 6, and your employer is willing to grant adoption leave to you, you may apply for adoption leave if:

  • Your FIA date is on or after 1 November 2021;
  • You have served your current employer at the point of your FIA date; and
  • You have not claimed any Government-Paid Adoption Benefit (GPAB) in respect of the same child.

The government may still reimburse your employer the government-paid portion of your adoption leave. However, do note that adoption leave that is voluntarily granted by employers cannot be shared with your husband under the Government-Paid Shared Parental Leave (SPL) scheme. The SPL scheme will be explained in the next section. 

If you are self-employed, you will be eligible for payment for the income lost during the government-paid portion of the adoption leave taken. This is calculated based on your Notice of Assessment issued by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). The Notice of Assessment is indicated in your income tax statement, which also shows the types and amount of income you earned.

Is my husband, the adoptive father, eligible for adoption leave?

If you are eligible to apply for adoption leave, you can share up to 4 weeks of your adoption leave with your husband, the adoptive father of your child, under the SPL scheme. Under the SPL scheme, the government will reimburse/pay for all 4 weeks of SPL, capped at $2,500 per week or a total of $10,000 for 4 weeks.

Your husband may also apply for Government-Paid Paternity Leave (GPPL). The eligibility criteria are the same as that for adoptive mothers to be eligible for adoption leave. If eligible, your husband may enjoy up to 2 weeks of leave, to be taken before your child’s first birthday (inclusive of the date of birth). The government will reimburse/pay for all 2 weeks of SPL, capped at $2,500 per week or a total of $5,000.

You may refer to this guide on paternity leave in Singapore for further information.

When Might the Government or Employer Recover Reimbursements/Payments?

In certain situations, the government or employer may recover the whole or any part of the payment for the adoption leave reimbursed/granted, such as when:

  • The Adoption Order for the child is not granted within 12 months from the FIA date (inclusive of the FIA date)
  • The child is not a Singapore citizen and he/she did not obtain Singapore citizenship within 6 months from the Adoption Order date (inclusive of the Adoption Order date).

How Can I Apply For Adoption Leave?

If you are an employee:

  1. Notify your employer of your adoption leave arrangements as soon as possible. This will allow your employer time to verify your eligibility and make alternative work arrangements for the period that you will be away on leave.
  2. Submit this declaration form (AL1) to your employer with all necessary supporting documents. You should do so at least one week before the start of your adoption leave; where this is not practicable, within one week after you have started your leave. It is also possible that your employer may have its own declaration form or system for you to declare your eligibility.
  3. Apply for adoption leave following your employer’s normal leave application procedures.

If you are self-employed:

  1. Record the period during which you have taken adoption leave.
  2. Submit your claim online via the Government-Paid Leave (GPL) Portal after you have commenced the government-paid portion of the adoption leave. You should do so within 3 months of the last day of your adoption leave.
  3. Check your application status on the GPL Portal. You will receive a notification once your application has been processed.

To recap, an eligible mother may enjoy up to 12 weeks of adoption leave to take care of and bond with her child before he/she turns 12 months old. You may enjoy your leave entitlements either by default or by mutual agreement with your employer. Do take note of the eligibility criteria and processes for applying for adoption leave so that you can enjoy your full adoption leave entitlements as far as possible.

If you are an employee and need advice on how to determine and/or enforce your adoption leave entitlements, it is recommended that you consult an employment lawyer for further advice. An employment lawyer can also advise you on any legal measures that you can take in the event of a dispute with your employer over your adoption leave entitlements.      

Congratulations on growing your family!

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