The Expecting Father’s Guide to Paternity Leave in Singapore
It is increasingly expected that both parents take part in the day-to-day care of their children. In line with this, under the Child Development Co-Savings Act (CDCA), new fathers may be entitled to up to:
- 2 weeks’ of government-paid paternity leave if their children are born (or adopted) on or after 1 January 2017; or
- 4 weeks’ of government-paid paternity leave if their children are born (or adopted) on or after 1 January 2024.
Eligibility for Paternity Leave: Fathers of Biological Children
For a father to be entitled to paternity leave in respect of a biological child, his child must either:
- Be a Singapore citizen from birth (This includes stillborn births* for children born on or after 1 January 2017). A child will automatically be a Singapore citizen from birth if the child is born in Singapore and at least one parent is also a Singapore citizen; or
- Become a Singapore citizen within 12 months of birth.
*Paternity leave applicable in the case of children born on or after 1 January 2024 excludes a stillborn child.
The child’s parents must also have been married:
- At the time of the child’s birth;
- For some time between the child’s conception and birth. This can apply even if the parents are now no longer married; or
- Within 12 months of the child’s birth. For this scenario, the parents should marry within 1 year of the birth. This is because paid paternity leave has to be taken within 1 year of the child’s birth.
Minimum duration of work
Apart from these requirements, the father must have been working for his employer (if he is an employee) or for himself (if he is self-employed) for a continuous period of 3 months.
For the purposes of paid paternity leave, the CDCA provides that an employee is a person who “works under a contract of service with an employer in Singapore”, including Government employees.
If a person has agreed to work under a contract of service, this generally means that he has agreed to carry out tasks his employer requests him to do over the course of the employer-employee relationship. Generally, if an employer has control over what an employee does, when he does it and how he does it, then there is likely to be a contract of service.
If however a person has contracted to provide a fixed list of services on an ad hoc basis (i.e. a contract for service), then that person will not be regarded as an employee. He is likely to be self-employed instead.
The CDCA defines a “self-employed man” as being a person who:
“engages in or carries on any trade, business, profession or vocation other than employment under a contract of service”.
Self-employment would include:
- Taking up odd-jobs;
- Working freelance under a freelance agreement; and
- Being an owner of a business.
Note, however, that the CDCA requires self-employed fathers to be Singapore residents before they can qualify for paid paternity leave.
Eligibility for Paternity Leave: Fathers of Adopted Children
Fathers of adopted children are entitled to paid paternity leave if the child has been adopted within 1 year of the date of the “Formal Intent to Adopt”.
The date of the “Formal Intent to Adopt” refers to:
- For children who are already Singapore citizens: the date when an application to adopt the child is first made to the court; or
- For children who are not yet Singapore citizens: the date when the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) approves the child’s Dependant’s Pass.
The adopted child must also:
- Be a Singapore citizen from birth. As mentioned above, a child will automatically be a Singapore citizen from birth if the child is born in Singapore and at least one parent is also a Singapore citizen; or
- Becomes a Singapore citizen within 6 months of the date of adoption. However, the adoptive father or mother must also be a Singapore citizen on the date that the child’s Dependant’s Pass is issued.
Finally, unless the date of the “Formal Intent to Adopt” is on or after 1 January 2017, the adoptive parent(s) also have to be married before or on the date of the “Formal Intent to Adopt”.
Summary of Paternity Leave Eligibility Requirements
Here is a summary of the eligibility requirements for paternity leave:
|Must the child be a Singapore citizen?
|When must the parents be married?
|How long must the father have been working for?
(whether as an employee or self-employed man)
(Whether father is employed or self-employed)
Either from birth (including stillborn births for children born on or after 1 January 2017 but not 1 January 2024) or within 12 months of birth
|Self-employed fathers must be Singapore residents
Either from birth or within 6 months of the date of adoption
|Parents only need to be married where the date of the “Formal Intent to Adopt” is before 1 January 2017
|Child to be adopted within 1 year of the date of “Formal Intent to Adopt”
Length of Paid Paternity Leave Entitlement
Working fathers who meet all the above requirements will be entitled to 2 weeks of paid paternity leave if their child is born on or after 1 January 2017, or 4 weeks of paternity leave if their child is born on or after 1 January 2024.
This entitlement is calculated on a per-day basis. Therefore, if you normally work 5 days a week, then the Government will compensate either your employer or yourself (for employed fathers and self-employed fathers respectively) for 10 days’ worth of your salary.
The paternity leave entitlement is capped at $2,500 per week, including Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions, and a maximum of 6 days per week.
It is best for employed fathers to take paternity leave only after discussing with their employers how the leave will be taken, for mutual convenience and to preserve a good working relationship.
If the employer allows the employed father to take paternity leave flexibly, then he may take the paid paternity leave at any time within 12 months of his child’s birth (or adoption). This can be done either as one continuous 2-week block, or split up into separate working days and taken in any mutually-agreed combination.
Alternatively, parties may opt for the default arrangement. The default arrangement is for the employed father to take 2 continuous weeks of paid paternity leave within 16 weeks of the child’s birth (or adoption).
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.
Self-employed fathers who stop working to care for their child, within 12 months of the child’s birth, are also eligible to claim from the government for loss of income.
What if an Employed Father Changes Jobs Before Using Up His Paid Paternity Leave Entitlement?
If an employed father leaves his job (whether by choice or otherwise) after his child is born before fully using his paid paternity leave entitlement, he cannot transfer his remaining paid paternity leave entitlement to any new employer.
However, if an employed father has been dismissed by his employer because he wanted to claim paid paternity leave, he may be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal and seek compensation from his former employer.
Penalties for Errant Employers
Employers who deny, without reasonable cause, employed fathers of their paid paternity leave entitlement may be fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed up to 6 months. These penalties increase to fines of up to $10,000 and jail terms of up to 12 months for repeat offenders.
Employers should also be particularly careful not to breach their paid paternity leave obligations due to the negative publicity which may result.
Additional Leave Arrangements
Shared parental leave
In addition to paid paternity leave, an employed father may, with his wife’s agreement, use up to 4 weeks of her paid maternity leave (and reduce her paid maternity leave entitlement by the same amount of leave). This is known as shared parental leave.
4-week shared parental leave is only available to parents of children born from 1 July 2017 onwards. Fathers of children born between 1 May 2013 and 1 July 2017 are entitled to share only 1 week of their wives’ paid maternity leave.
For an employed father to be eligible for shared parental leave:
- The child’s mother must be entitled to paid maternity leave;
- The child must be a Singapore citizen or, would have been a Singapore citizen in the case of a stillborn child; and
- The employed father qualifies for paid paternity leave.
An employed father may, by mutual agreement with his employer, take any combination of leave which adds up to 4 weeks within 12 months of his child’s birth (or adoption).
Alternatively, employed fathers may choose to take shared parental leave in the default arrangement of a continuous period of 4 weeks within 12 months of their children’s birth (or adoption).
Shared parental leave taken by employed fathers is capped at $2,500 per week, including CPF contributions, and for a maximum of 6 days per week.
Other leave arrangements
Apart from shared parental leave, employed parents should find out if their employers have additional leave allowances or benefits for new parents as part of an internal company policy.
Applying for Paid Paternity Leave
Fathers can apply for paid paternity leave (and/or shared paternity leave) through the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Government-Paid Leave portal.
Employed fathers are however encouraged to approach and inform their companies’ human resource departments of their intention to apply for paid paternity leave before doing so.
If you need legal advice on determining and/or enforcing your paternity leave rights, you can get in touch with one of our trusted employment lawyers here.
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