Singapore laws recognise that new fathers also want to share in the care of their newborn baby. Since 2017, eligible working fathers are entitled to two weeks of government-paid paternity leave under the Child Development Co-Savings Act (CDCA). The father may also share up to four weeks of the mother’s maternity leave if the mother is eligible for government-paid maternity leave.
Eligibility for Paternity Leave
Who qualifies as a working father?
- Fathers employed under a contract of service will be eligible for government-paid paternity leave if he has worked for his employer for at least three continuous months before the child’s birth.
- Self-employed fathers must have been engaged in their work for a continuous period of at least three months before the child’s birth and must lose income during the paternity leave period. The CDCA defines “self-employed” as “engaging in or carries on any trade, business, profession or vocation other than employment under a contract of service”. To qualify for paternity benefits, self-employed fathers must be Singapore residents.
Other requirements for eligibility
The child’s citizenship
- The child must be a Singapore citizen at birth, i.e. born in Singapore, and at least one parent is a Singapore citizen; or
- The child must become a Singapore citizen within twelve months from birth.
The parents’ marital status
- The father must be legally married to the child’s mother on the date of birth; or
- Was lawfully married to the child’s mother between conception and birth; or
- The parents get married within one year of the birth (paternity leave can be taken up to one year from birth).
Benefits under the Child Development Co-Savings Act
If the father qualifies for paternity benefits, he will be entitled to two weeks of paid paternity leave. The entitlement per week depends on the number of days worked per week, capped at a maximum of six days per week. If you usually work five days per week, you will be entitled to ten days of paid paternity leave.
The amount is capped at $2,500 per week, inclusive of CPF contributions.
Must I take my paternity leave all at once?
The default arrangement is that the father takes two continuous weeks of paternity leave within sixteen weeks from the child’s birth. Fathers can, however, discuss this with their employers and reach an agreement that the leave can be taken flexibly over twelve months from the child’s birth.
- The leave can be two continuous weeks any time within twelve months from the date of birth; or
- Be split up into separate working days and taken in any way that the employer agrees to within twelve months from the child’s birth.
Self-employed fathers can use their paid paternity leave in any way that suits their work commitments within twelve months from the child’s birth.
Shared parental leave
If the mother agrees, working fathers can apply to share up to four weeks of the mother’s sixteen weeks government-paid maternity leave. Employed and self-employed fathers are entitled to shared parental leave provided that:
- The child is a Singapore citizen;
- The mother qualifies for government-paid maternity leave; and
- The father qualifies for paid paternity leave.
Shared parental leave can be taken in a continuous stretch within twelve months after the child’s birth, or flexibly, if self-employed or agreed on by the father’s employer.
The mother’s maternity leave entitlement reduces accordingly.
Shared parental leave is also capped at six days per week and $2,500 per week.
Are you entitled to leave when you Adopt a child?
Yes, you are entitled to paid paternity leave if you meet the following requirements:
- The adopted child is below twelve months of age;
- The child is a Singapore citizen from birth; or
- Becomes a Singapore citizen within six months of the date of adoption, and one of the adoptive parents is a Singapore citizen on the date the child’s Dependant’s Pass is issued;
- You must be an applicant to the adoption;
- You are employed or self-employed for a continuous period of at least three months preceding the date of formal intent to adopt;
Also, the child must be adopted within one year of the formal intent’s date to adopt.
- If the child is already a Singapore citizen, it means one year from the date when the application to adopt is first filed in court;
- If the child is not yet a Singapore citizen, it means one year from the date the immigration & checkpoints authority of Singapore approves the child’s Dependant’s Pass.
Who pays the benefits?
The employer must continue to pay the employer as though he is still working as usual. Once the employee has completed paternity leave, the employer submits a claim for reimbursement to the government.
Self-employed fathers can claim directly from the government.
Can I transfer my paternity leave entitlement to a new employer?
No, if you leave your employment before entirely using your paid paternity leave benefits, you cannot transfer the remaining entitlement to your new employer.
What happens if my employer refuses to grant my paid parental leave?
An employer cannot deny a father’s paid paternity leave entitlements without reasonable cause. If your employer breaches their paid paternity leave obligations, they may be fined up to $5,000 and/or be jailed for up to six months.
Government-paid paternity benefits
Some working fathers may not qualify for government-paid paternity leave due to their specific employment arrangements. However, if your child is born on or after 1 January 2021, or the formal intent to adopt date is on or after 1 January 2021, you may be eligible for government-paid paternity benefits (GPPB).
GPPB is a cash benefit instead of paid paternity leave. The benefit will be equivalent to two weeks of government-paid paternity leave, based on the father’s average income earned over the twelve months preceding the child’s birth or date of formal intent to adopt.
To be eligible for GPPB, you need to meet the following criteria:
- The child must be born on or after 1 January 2021; or
- The formal intent to adopt date must be on or after 1 January 2021;
- The father must have been employed or self-employed for a total of 90 days in the 12 months preceding the child’s birth or adoption; and
- You do not qualify for government-paid parental leave.
If you are the child’s biological father:
- The child must be a Singapore citizen, or if the child is not a Singapore citizen at birth, the father can still qualify for GPPB if the child becomes a Singapore citizen within 12 months from birth.
- The father must be, or was, lawfully married to the child’s mother at a point between conception and birth. The father can also qualify if he legally married the child’s mother within twelve months from the child’s birth.
If you are adopting the child:
- The child must be less than twelve months old at the date of formal intent to adopt;
- The child must be a Singapore citizen;
- If the child is not a Singapore citizen, at least one of the adoptive parents must be a Singapore citizen on the date of the formal intent to adopt, and the child must become a Singapore citizen within six months after the adoption;
- The child must be adopted within one year from the date of the formal intent to adopt.
Take note that eligible fathers can apply for GPPB from December 2021.
Can I choose not to take government-paid leave and take GPPB instead?
No, parents are encouraged to use their leave to care for the newborn or adopted child. If you choose not to take your leave, you will not be able to claim GPPB.
Singapore law encourages fathers to take an active role in caring for their newborn or adopted children. In the spirit of the law, many employers offer paternity leave or benefits to new fathers. Employed fathers should find out what their options are to make full use of all their paternity benefits.
No employer is allowed to dismiss an employed father who wants to claim paternity leave. Any father who feels that he was dismissed due to paternity leave claims can bring an unfair dismissal claim and seek compensation from the employer.