Working fathers who want to share the care and upbringing of their baby, are now entitled to 2 weeks of government-paid paternity leave, according to the Child Development Co-Savings Act (CDCA). If the mother is eligible for government-paid maternity leave, then the father can also share up to 4 weeks of that period.
Eligibility for Paternity Leave
A father will qualify as a working father if:
- They are employed under a contract of service, and so are eligible for paid paternity leave because they have worked for their employer for at least 3 consecutive months before the birth of their child;
- They are self-employed and have been so engaged for at least 3 consecutive months before the baby’s birth, and they would lose income otherwise during the paternity leave period. ‘Self employed’ is defined in the CDCA as ‘carrying out any trade, business, profession or vocation other than employment under a contract of service’. Self-employed fathers must be Singapore residents in order to qualify for paternity benefits.
Other eligibility requirements
Parents’ marital status
- The father must be legally married to the mother of the child on its date of birth; or
- The father must be legally married to the mother of the child between conception and birth; or
- The parents are married within 1 year of the birth (a father can take his paternity leave up to one year after the child’s date of birth).
- The child must be a citizen of Singapore from birth, in other words born in the country and at least one parent is a Singapore citizen.
- If not a Singapore citizen from birth, the child must become one within 1 year of being born.
Benefits under the Child Development Co-Savings Act
Fathers who qualify for paternity benefits are allowed to take 2 weeks of paid paternity leave. The per week entitlement depends on the number of days he works per week, up to a maximum of 6 days per week. Someone who works 5 days per week is entitled to 10 days of paid paternity leave. Pay is capped at $2,500 each week, including CPF contributions.
Shared parental leave
With the mother’s agreement, a father can request to share up to 4 weeks of the mother’s 16 weeks of government-paid paternity leave. Both self-employed and employed fathers can take advantage of shared parental leave, as long as:
- Their child is a citizen of Singapore;
- The child’s mother qualifies for government-paid paternity leave; and
- The child’s father qualifies for paid paternity leave.
Parents have the option of taking shared leave either in a continuous stretch within 12 months of the child’s birth, or flexibly, if the father is self-employed or he is employed but his employer agrees to it.
Accordingly, the mother’s maternity leave entitlement reduces.
There is a cap on shared parental leave of 6 days per week, paid at up to $2,500 per week.
Do I have to take all my paternity leave at once?
Although the standard arrangement is 2 continuous weeks of paternity leave within 16 weeks of the child’s birth, a father can discuss with his employer and agree on a different arrangement. The leave is flexible and can be taken over 12 months from the child’s birth. The leave can be:
- 2 continuous weeks, anytime within 12 months of the child’s birth; or
- Split up into separate working days, taken in whatever way the employer agrees to, within 12 months of the child’s birth.
Fathers who are self-employed can use their paid paternity leave in whichever way suits their work duties, within 12 months of their child’s birth date.
Entitlement to leave in cases of adoption
If you satisfy the following requirements, you will be entitled to paid paternity leave if you adopt a child:
- The adopted child has been a Singapore citizen from birth; or
- The child becomes a Singapore citizen within 6 months of their adoption date, and one parent is a Singapore citizen on the date the child’s Dependant’s Pass is issued;
- The child is less than 1 year old;
- You are an applicant to the adoption;
- You are employed or have been self-employed for a continuous period of at least 3 months prior to the date of intent to adopt.
In addition, the child must be adopted within 1 year of the date of intent to adopt.
- If the child has Singapore citizenship already, this means 1 year from the date the application to adopt is first filed in court;
- If the child does not have Singapore citizenship, then it means 1 year from the date that the Singapore immigration authority approved the child’s Dependant’s Pass.
Who should pay the benefits?
The employee will continue to be paid by the employer, as if he is working as normal. Once paternity leave is completed, the employer can submit a claim to the government, who will reimburse them. Fathers who are self-employed can claim directly from the government.
Can an employer refuse to grant paid parental leave?
Employers cannot refuse paid paternity leave entitlements without reasonable cause. If your employer tries to do this, they can be fined up to $5,000 and/or be jailed for up to 6 months.
Transferring paternity leave entitlement to new employment
This is not possible – if you cease employment before using your paid paternity leave benefits, you may not transfer the remaining entitlement to a new employer.
Government-paid paternity benefits
Due to certain employment arrangements, some employed fathers might not qualify for government-paid paternity leave. But if your child was born on or after 1 January 2021, or you intend to formally adopt on or after this date, then you might be entitled to get something known as Government Paid Paternity Benefit (GPPB).
GPPB is a cash benefit, instead of leave from work. It is equivalent to 2 weeks of paid paternity leave, based on the father’s average salary over the 12 months prior to the child’s birth or formal intention to adopt. The following criteria must be met in order to claim GPPB:
- Your child was born on or after 1 January 2021; or
- You expressed a formal intent to adopt on or after 1 January 2021;
- You must have been employed or self-employed for at least 90 days in total over the 12 months prior to the birth or adoption of your child; and
- You don’t qualify for government-paid parental leave.
If you are the biological father of the child:
- The father must be currently, or have been in the past, legally married to the child’s mother at a point between the conception and birth of the child. If the father married the child’s mother within 1 year of the child’s birth, then he can also qualify.
- The child must be a Singapore citizen, or if they are not at birth, then the father may still be entitled to GPPB if his child does become a Singapore citizen within 1 year of their birth.
If you’re adopting the child:
- The child must be a Singapore citizen;
- The child must be less than 1 year old at the date of formal intent to adopt;
- If the child isn’t a Singapore citizen then at least one of its adoptive parents must be one, on the date of the formal intent to adopt, and the child must become one within 6 months of the adoption;
- The child must be adopted within 1 year of the date of the formal intent to adopt.
Note that fathers who are eligible can apply for GPPB from December 2021.
Can I choose GPPB instead of government-paid leave?
No – parents should use their leave to care for their child. If you choose to refuse leave, you will not then be able to claim GPPB.
In Singapore, fathers are encouraged to actively care for their children, and the law allows many employers to offer paternity leave or other benefits to new fathers. To make full use of all their paternity benefits, new fathers should make themselves aware of all their options.
It is not permissible for an employer to sack an employed father who wishes to claim paternity leave. If any father feels this has happened to him, he can bring an unfair dismissal claims and seek compensation from his employer.