A Guide to Company Leave Entitlements in Singapore
All employees in Singapore are entitled to certain rights and benefits – leave entitlements are one of them.
There are two types of leave entitlements:
- Statutory; and
Statutory leave refers to compulsory leave entitlements that are provided for under the Employment Act (EA). The EA is Singapore’s main labour law which provides for the basic terms and conditions at work for employees in Singapore. All employees (including full-time, part-time, temporary, and contract employees) are protected under the EA.
However, seafarers, domestic workers and statutory board employees are not covered under the EA. Instead, their employment terms/conditions (e.g. leave entitlements) are covered under other regulations and their respective employment contracts. Self-employed persons are also not covered under the EA. Nevertheless, they are still eligible for child and adoption leave entitlements as this article will discuss.
On the other hand, non-statutory leave refers to non-mandatory entitlements that may be offered by some employers. These entitlements may also be dependent on the terms of your employment contract.
If you are an employee working in Singapore and are covered by the EA, read on to learn more about your leave entitlements. In this article, we will cover:
A summary table of all statutory and non-statutory leave entitlements is available below.
Statutory Leave Entitlements
Under the EA, employees are generally entitled to the following types of leave:
- Annual Leave
- Public Holidays and Off-in-Lieu
- Government-Paid Maternity Leave
- Government-Paid Paternity Leave
- Shared Parental Leave
- Government-Paid Adoption Leave
- Government-Paid Childcare Leave
- Unpaid Infant Care Leave
- Outpatient Sick Leave and Hospitalisation Leave
- National Service Leave
An employee that has worked for more than 3 months will be entitled to a minimum of 7 days of paid annual leave for the first year of service. You can only start applying for annual leave after working for 3 months.
Under the EA, the number of paid annual leave increases by one day per year of service, with the maximum capped at 14 days as illustrated in the table below. However, do note that the entitlement of up to 14 days of annual leave is only statutorily provided for, and employers are free to provide more days of annual leave (eg. up to 21/28 days) as part of their employment benefits.
Year of service
|Days of leave|
|8th and thereafter||14|
If you have been employed with your current employer for at least 3 months but not the full 12 months in any year, your annual leave will be pro-rated accordingly. This is also relevant if you intend to leave the company in the same year. For more information on how to calculate your pro-rated annual leave, please visit the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) website.
Public holidays and off-in-lieu
Employees are entitled to 11 paid public holidays every year. Should any gazetted public holiday fall on a rest day, the next working day will be a day off-in-lieu. A rest day refers to an unpaid non-working day determined by the employer (eg. Sunday or any other day of the week). Employers must provide at least 1 rest day per week.
If you are required to work on a public holiday, you are also entitled to either a day off-in-lieu or an extra day of salary.
The following formula may be used to calculate your public holiday pay falling on a working day or non-working day:
(12 x Monthly basic rate of pay x Public holidays worked on) / (52 (number of weeks in a year) x Average number of work days in a week)
For instance, if you happen to work on National Day in August, have a monthly income of $3,000, and work an average of 5 days a week, your additional public holiday pay will be as follows:
(12 x $3,000 x 1) / (52 x 5) = $138.46
To access the calculator and to find out more about your public holiday entitlements, you may wish to visit the MOM link here.
Government-Paid Maternity Leave (GPML)
Working mothers who have worked for at least 3 months will be entitled to either 16 weeks of maternity leave under the GPML scheme or 12 weeks of maternity leave, depending on whether the child is a Singapore citizen and other criteria.
For more information, please refer to our guide on maternity leave entitlements in Singapore.
Government-Paid Paternity Leave (GPPL)
Eligible working fathers are entitled to 2 weeks of paternity leave. Requirements would include serving the employer for at least 3 months, the child being a Singapore citizen, and being lawfully married to the child’s mother between conception and birth.
For more information about the eligibility criteria for GPPL, please refer to our guide on paternity leave in Singapore.
Government-paid adoption leave
Eligible adoptive mothers are entitled to 12 weeks of paid adoption leave.
To be eligible, you must fulfil the following criteria:
- Your adopted child must be below 12 months old when you made your formal intent to adopt. The formal intent to adopt differs depending on whether your child is local (a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident) or foreign.
- For a local child, the intent to adopt occurs when you file the court application to adopt.
- For a foreign child, this occurs when the in-principle approval is granted for a Dependent’s Pass.
- Your adopted child is a Singapore citizen. However, if the child is a foreigner:
- One of the adoptive parents must be a Singapore citizen; and
- The child must become a Singapore citizen within 6 months of adoption
- You must have served your employer or been self-employed for at least 3 months immediately before your formal intent to adopt.
- The adoption order must also be passed within 1 year from the formal intent to adopt.
Upon meeting the above requirements, you will be entitled to 12 weeks of paid adoption leave, capped at $10,000 for every 4 weeks of leave taken (inclusive of CPF contributions). Do take note that you must consume your adoption leave before the child’s first birthday.
Similar to GPML, up to 4 weeks of adoption leave can be shared with adoptive fathers.
Shared Parental Leave (SPL)
If you are a working father, you can also apply to share up to 4 weeks of your wife’s GPML or Adoption Leave (subject to your wife’s mutual agreement). The eligibility requirements are as follows:
- Your child must be a Singapore citizen;
- The child’s mother must first qualify for GPML; and
- You are lawfully married to the child’s mother.
For more information on SPLs and how to apply for them, you may refer to the MOM’s website here.
Government-paid childcare leave
Working parents of children who are Singapore citizens are entitled to 6 days of paid childcare leave per year.
The following are the eligibility requirements for this leave entitlement, as stipulated by the Ministry of Manpower:
- Your child is a Singaporean citizen;
- If your child is a non-citizen, you are entitled to 2 days of childcare leave per year
- Your youngest child is below 7 years old; and
- You have served your employer for at least 3 continuous months; for those who are self-employed, you must have been self-employed for at least 3 continuous months and have lost income during your childcare leave period.
You may wish to refer to this detailed guide for more information on childcare leave in Singapore.
In addition, if your youngest child is in primary school, you are entitled to 2 days of extended childcare leave. The eligibility requirements that would need to be met are as follows:
- Your youngest child is between 7 and 12 years old (inclusive);
- Your child is a Singaporean citizen; and
- For employees, you must have served your employer for at least 3 continuous months. For those who are self-employed, you must have been engaged in your work for a continuous period of at least 3 months, and have lost income during the childcare leave period.
Unpaid infant care leave
In addition to paid childcare leave, you are also entitled to 6 days of unpaid infant care leave a year (regardless of the number of children) if you meet the following requirements:
- Your child (includes legally adopted children or step-children) is below 2 years old;
- Your child is a Singapore citizen; and
- You have served your employer for at least 3 continuous months.
Outpatient sick leave and hospitalisation leave
Employees are entitled to up to 14 days of paid outpatient sick leave and 60 days of paid hospitalisation leave. The number of days of leave entitlement would depend on your period of service (further elaborated below).
To be eligible for paid outpatient sick leave and hospitalisation leave, you must:
- Be covered under the EA;
- Have served your employer for at least 3 months; and
- Have informed or tried to inform your employer of your absence (i.e., on medical grounds) within 48 hours.
For paid sick leave, you must also provide your employer with a Medical Certificate certifying that you are unfit for work.
As for paid hospitalisation leave, you must be:
- Warded in a hospital (either public or private) for day surgery or quarantined under written law; and
- Certified by a medical practitioner from an approved medical centre, national specialty centre or ambulatory surgical centre.
For a complete list of MOM-approved hospitals, National Specialty Centres and Ambulatory Centres, please visit the link here.
If you have served your employer for less than 6 months, your paid sick leave and hospitalisation leave will be pro-rated accordingly:
|Number of months of service completed||Paid outpatient sick leave (days)||Paid hospitalisation leave (days)|
|6 and thereafter||14||60|
National service leave
Under section 23 of the Enlistment Act, your employer is obliged to provide you with paid leave of absence when you are called to perform National Service duties (eg. reservist and voluntary service).
In particular, your employer will be required to provide NS Make-Up Pay for the duration of any Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) activities in which you are required to participate. To illustrate, your NS pay is split into 2 components:
- Service Pay: This refers to your full-time NS allowance (dependent on your rank and vocation) which will be pro-rated based on the duration of your ORNS activity.
- Make-Up Pay: This refers to the difference between your civilian income loss and your Service Pay for the duration of your ORNS activity. If you are an employee, how you claim the Make-Up Pay will depend on whether your employer is:
- Registered with the Direct Reimbursement to Employers of Claims for NS Training (DIRECT) scheme: In this case, you are not required to submit a Make-Up Pay claim as your employer will provide your usual pay and claim reimbursement of the Service Pay from MINDEF.
- Not registered with the DIRECT scheme: Either you or your employer will have to initiate a claim for Make-Up Pay. If you are doing so, you have to access and complete the steps in the NS Portal before your employer endorses and submits the claim to MINDEF.
Non-statutory Leave Entitlements
Apart from statutory leave entitlements, employers may choose to provide their employees with non-statutory leave entitlements.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of non-statutory leave entitlements that some employers might provide:
- Unpaid leave/leave of absence
- Compassionate/Bereavement Leave
- Marriage Leave
- Study/Exam Leave
- Birthday Leave
- Mental Health Day/Leave
Unpaid leave/Leave of absence
Unpaid leave refers to a period of absence that an employee takes without being paid a salary for the duration of the leave. Subject to your employer’s approval, you may apply for unpaid leave if you are not eligible for paid annual leave or have used up your paid annual leave. Unpaid leave may also be taken for a variety of reasons, such as dependent care and the continuation of education.
Unpaid leave is not provided for under any statute in Singapore. Therefore, your employer will have the discretion to decide whether to grant, as well as dictate the maximum and minimum number of unpaid leave you are entitled to.
A sabbatical refers to a period in which employees take an extended break from work to pursue other personal and/or professional interests. Companies may provide employees with sabbatical leave after a period of service (eg. one-month sabbatical after 5 continuous years of service). Depending on your employer, sabbatical leave may be fully paid, partially paid or unpaid.
Examples of sabbaticals include taking time off to travel, write, volunteer, study or simply enjoying a well-deserved break after working for a number of years.
Companies usually offer 2 to 3 days of paid compassionate/bereavement leave for employees when an immediate family member has passed away. The time off is typically used for grieving, attending or preparing for the funeral.
Immediate family members would normally include parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, siblings, and in-laws. However, the exact scope and duration of the compassionate/bereavement leave would still depend on your company’s leave policy.
Marriage leave is provided for employees who are getting married. This is granted at the company’s discretion and while it is usually paid, it may be partially paid or unpaid if the leave is for an extended period of time. You may be expected to provide a copy of the Marriage Certificate to your employer to support such a leave application.
In support of lifelong learning, many companies are also offering study/exam leave for employees to prepare or attend exams. This may range from a few days to a few weeks.
Depending on your company, you may be granted 1 paid birthday leave to celebrate the occasion. Some organisations may even allow employees to take this day off before or after their birthday itself.
Mental health day/leave
Some companies have started to include mental health days/leave for employees to reduce stress and burnout. Again, this leave entitlement would ultimately depend on your company’s leave policy. For instance, some companies have allowed employees to take mental health days without a medical certificate. Other companies may require you to take sick leave to address mental health concerns.
Summary of Statutory and Non-statutory Leave Entitlements
Here is a summary of both statutory and non-statutory leave entitlements as discussed above:
|Type of Leave||Entitlement Period||Eligibility Requirement(s)/ Key Information|
|Annual Leave||7-14 days (depending on the years of service and/or the number of months worked)||Employed for a minimum of 3 months|
|Public Holidays and Off-in-Lieu||During public holidays||If you are required to work, your employer should grant extra pay/day off-in-lieu|
|Government-Paid Maternity Leave||12 or 16 weeks||
You may refer to this guide for more details
|Government-Paid Paternity Leave||2 weeks||
You may refer to this guide for more details
|Government-Paid Adoption Leave / Shared Parental Leave||12 weeks||
|Government-Paid Childcare Leave||6 days||
You may refer to this guide on childcare leave for more details.
|Unpaid Infant Care Leave||6 days||
|Outpatient Sick Leave and Hospitalisation Leave||
|National Service (NS) Leave||Full duration of NS duties||
|Type of Leave||Entitlement Period*||Key Information|
|Unpaid Leave/Leave of Absence||Determined by the employer||Period of absence employee takes without pay|
|Sabbatical||Usually 2 months to a year||An extended period of leave to pursue personal interests|
|Usually 2-3 days||Leave for employees when an immediate family member has passed away|
|Marriage Leave||Usually 2-3 days||Leave for employees getting married|
|Study/Exam Leave||Determined by the exam schedule, subject to the employer’s approval||Leave for employees studying and working at the same time|
|Birthday Leave||1 day||Leave provided for employees before/after/during their birthdays|
|Mental Health Day/Leave||Determined by the employer||Leave provided for employees to unplug and recharge|
*Since these are non-statutory types of leave, the duration would vary from employer to employer.
As an employer, it is important for you to be aware of the various statutory leave entitlements that you are required, by law, to provide to eligible employees. Non-statutory leave entitlements, on the other hand, are additional incentives that you may choose to provide at your discretion as an employer. Similarly, employees should also take note of the statutory leave entitlements that apply to them, and review their employment contracts in the event their employers provide additional, non-statutory leave entitlements.
Disputes regarding leave entitlements may arise in a variety of scenarios. For instance, there may be salary-related claims regarding non-payment when taking paid leave, or disputes regarding the eligibility requirements for different types of leave.
If you have any legal questions about your leave entitlements or potential disputes with your employers about this issue, you may consult an employment lawyer for further advice. An employment lawyer can advise you on your employment rights and assist you in taking legal actions if necessary.
Alternatively, you may also wish to use our Call A Lawyer service, where you can have a short 20-minute phone consultation with a lawyer for quick legal advice on matters relating to your leave entitlements.
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