Know your maternity rights in Singapore | Practical advice for working mums

maternity rights in Singapore
PR or foreigner? Unmarried or self-employed? If you’re a working mum in Singapore, you absolutely need to know your entitlements when it comes to maternity leave, so that you can plan accordingly.

Your plans for a baby have turned into a confirmed double line on a pregnancy stick. First off, congratulations! It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride, but we’ve got your back. From our baby name guide to where to find maternity wear that won’t make you look like a sack of frump, we’ve got all the tips and tricks to help make your pregnancy a smooth one at Bumps and Babies.

But before bubba arrives to turn your world upside-down and your heart inside-out forever, you’re going to need to get a few important things sorted. We’re not just talking which stroller to plump for, and what kind of baby shower to have; we mean the nitty-gritty things like maternity leave. If you’re a working mum, you’re going to need to know your rights when it comes to taking time off, getting paid and the rules surrounding your return to life after maternity leave. We’ve been taking a look at the entitlements you can expect whether you’re a Singapore citizen, PR or foreigner…

Who qualifies for maternity leave in Singapore?

To qualify for 16 weeks of paid maternity leave in Singapore, you must meet a set of basic requirements. Here’s the checklist for eligibility:

  • Your child is a Singapore citizen
  • You are lawfully married to the child’s father
  • You have worked for your employer for at least 90 days before baby pops into the world.

As a side note, if you do not meet these requirements, but your status changes within 12 months of bubba’s birth (i.e. you get married, or baby becomes a citizen), you will be eligible for the remaining paid leave out of the 16 weeks. It is also worth noting that if you are expecting twins (or more!), this will still be treated as a single birth in terms of maternity leave.

How long is my maternity leave?

If your baby is a Singapore citizen, you are entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, to be taken up to four weeks before giving birth and 12 weeks post birth. The last eight weeks of maternity leave can be flexible – you just need to work together with your employer to come up with a mutually acceptable plan. PRs and foreign mums get 12 weeks’ leave.

What if I am a PR or foreigner?

Regardless of your nationality, if you have been working for your employer for at least three months, you will be entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave as stated in the Employment Act. The employer will be obliged to fund the first eight weeks of the leave, with the remaining four weeks being at the employer’s discretion.

Leave can be taken up to four weeks before baby is due, and for eight weeks after baby’s arrival. However, you can arrange for the 12 weeks of leave to start later, but this must be arranged beforehand in mutual agreement with the employer.

What happens if I’m an unmarried mum?

It was to much fanfare that the Government announced that from January 2017, single mothers would finally get the same 16-week entitlement as married mums. Hurrah! You just have to meet the same eligibility checklist as above (therefore work for your employer for at least 90 days before the little one arrives). And if you are solo-parenting, don’t forget to read our guide to emotional and practical advice for raising kids alone. You’ve got this, Mummy!

I am self-employed. Will I get paid maternity leave?

We LOVE entrepreneurial mums, so if you have your own business and have been self-employed for a period of at least 90 days before baby’s arrival, you will get Government Paid Leave for 16 weeks as long as you are a Singapore citizen. PR and foreign mums do not qualify for this type of mat leave. Sorry, ladies!

What if I’m working part-time?

According to the Employment Act, you are entitled to the same maternity benefits and protection as a full-time employee, as long as you’ve met all the criteria mentioned above to be eligible for mat leave. How much you get paid during this time is based on the number of days you are contracted to work, at your gross rate of pay.

What about my husband’s right to paternity leave?

As a working father, the hubs is entitled to two weeks of paid paternity leave. All dads – citizens, PRs and foreigners – are eligible for this as long as they meet the following requirements:

  • The baby is a Singapore citizen.
  • He has been been married to you between conception and birth.
  • He has worked for his employer for a continuous period of at least three months before the birth of the child.
  • If he’s self-employed, he must be engaged in work for a continuous period of at least three months before the birth of the baby. He must also prove that he will be losing income during his paternity leave period.

Before going on maternity leave, you must:

  • Inform your employer you’re starting your mat leave as soon as possible or at least one week before.
  • You should reach an agreement with your employer on how and when you intend to take the leave at least one week before you intend to finish work. The longer in advance you can get this arrangement fixed, the better for everyone.
  • Decide if you want to share up to four weeks of your 16 weeks with your husband as part of the shared parental leave scheme.

What if my baby puts in an early appearance?

If your tiny person just can’t wait to meet you and arrives earlier than planned, as long as you meet the 90-day employment criteria, you can start your full maternity leave from your child’s birth date.

Can my employment be terminated while I am pregnant?

If your employer terminates your employment without sufficient cause while you are pregnant, or retrenches you during your pregnancy, they must still pay the maternity benefits you would have been eligible for. To qualify for this maternity protection, you must have:

  • Worked for your employer for at least three months before receiving the notice of dismissal or retrenchment.
  • Been certified pregnant by a medical practitioner before receiving the notice of dismissal or retrenchment.

And during maternity leave?

An employer has obligations to an employee who is on maternity leave and must:

  • Continue to pay your salary throughout your maternity leave as if you have been working without a break.
  • Not ask you to work during the first four weeks of your confinement.

As an employee:

  • You cannot work for another employer during your maternity leave. If you do so, your maternity benefit will be forfeited and you may also be dismissed.

By the way, it’s an offence for you to be dismissed as an employee while you are on maternity leave in Singapore!

To conclude…

It’s complicated for sure, but the bottom line is that if you have worked for your employer for at least three months before giving birth, you will be entitled to some sort of paid maternity leave, even if you work part-time. Make sure you check the Ministry of Manpower website for full details and complete eligibility checklists, and get your HR department on board as soon as you can. And don’t forget your maternity insurance!

Like this story? Here are more we think you’ll enjoy:

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