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HR’s 2024 Guide to Singapore Maternity Leave

22 February 2024

9 min read

Amanda Chua
Amanda Chua

Policies on maternity leave Singapore are crucial components of a company’s HR management, with Singapore’s Employment Act setting out the basic requirements for maternity leave entitlements. Effective management of maternity leave Singapore policies can contribute to legal compliance, workforce diversity,  employee retention and keeping them motivated and engaged

This guide provides the necessary information on the key aspects of maternity leave Singapore, including eligibility criteria, employer obligations, and special situations for maternity leave. 

What is Government-Paid Maternity Leave? 

The Singaporean government provides eligible working mothers with 16 weeks of paid leave to recover from childbirth and spend time with their newborn babies under the Government-Paid Maternity Leave (GPML) scheme.

Relevant reads:

Who is entitled for maternity leave Singapore?

maternity leave Singapore

As per the guidelines from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), working mothers are entitled to 16 weeks of Government-Paid Maternity Leave or 12 weeks of maternity leave Singapore under the Employment Act, depending on whether their child is a Singapore citizen and other criteria. 

To be qualified for full 16 weeks of GPML, the employee must meet the following conditions: 

  • Employee has worked for the organization for at least 3 continuous months before the birth of her child.
  • She is legally married to her newborn child’s father.
  • Her child must be a Singapore citizen at birth.

How many days are employees entitled to maternity leave Singapore?

As mentioned above, working mothers are entitled to either 16 weeks of GPML or 12 weeks of maternity leave. However, there are certain criterias that must be fulfilled. 

Employed working mothers

For employed working mothers, they are entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave if their child is a Singapore citizen and they’ve worked for the organization for at least 3 continuous months before birth. 

If the child is not a Singapore citizen or if they do not meet the 3-month employment requirement, they are still eligible for 12 weeks maternity leave Singapore. However, this maternity leave is unpaid, unless stated otherwise in the employment contract. 

Self-employed working mothers

Self-employed working mothers are not covered by the Employment Act and hence, are not eligible to paid maternity leave Singapore. However, they may be eligible for government grants such as: 

  • Baby Bonus Scheme: provide parents with one-time cash payment upon birth of a Singapore citizen.
  • Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SERS): tax relief for self-employed individuals facing income loss due to pregnancy or childbirth.

Employee on probation

For employees still under probation, they are generally eligible for maternity leave as long as they meet the service requirement (3 months for GPML, any duration for Employment Act). 

Some organizations might provide specific policies for probationary employees regarding leave entitlements. 

Contract, temporary or part-time employees

When it comes to contract, temporary or part-time employees, maternity leave Singapore is pro-rated. 

If entitled for GPML, the entitlements are pro-rated based on hours worked compared to full-time employees. 

If entitled for maternity leave under the Employment Act, it is pro-rated based on days worked in the past 12 months. Again, these maternity leave entitlements are unpaid unless stated otherwise in the employee’s contract. 

What are the employer’s obligations for maternity leave Singapore?

Employers are required to pay their employees during the maternity leave period. However, they can claim reimbursement from the Government in accordance with the GPML scheme: 

  • For first and second births, employers pay the first 8 weeks at the employee’s gross rate of pay, with the Government reimbursing the last 8 weeks, capped at $10,000 per 4 weeks or a total of $20,000.
  • For third and subsequent births, employers are not required to pay, and the Government reimburses all 16 weeks, capped at $10,000 per 4 weeks or a total of $40,000.

Employees must provide at least 1 week’s notice before going on maternity leave and inform the employer as soon as possible of the delivery. If failed to do so, employees are only entitled to half the payment during maternity leave, unless a proper reason for not giving notice is given. 

On the flip side, employers cannot request an employee to work during the first 4 weeks of her confinement and may face legal consequences for dismissing an employee while she is on maternity leave.

Omni Tip for managing maternity leave Singapore:
If a migrant worker becomes pregnant, it is the employer’s obligation to notify MOM on such changes.

Maternity Leave Singapore in Special Situations

Now that we’ve covered the basics of maternity leave Singapore eligibility and entitlements, we’ll be taking a look at special situations that could arise: 

Child is not a Singapore citizen

If your employee’s child is not a Singapore citizen, they are not eligible for GPML but are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Employment Act, regardless of nationality. 

On the other hand, self-employed mothers not covered by the Employment Act may be eligible for government grants such as Baby Bonus (if mother is a Singapore citizen) as mentioned above.

Employee is not eligible for Government-Paid Maternity Leave (GPML) at the time of delivery

Employees who do not meet the 3-month service requirement or whose child is not a Singapore citizen are not eligible for GPML. However, they are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Employment Act. 

It is worth noting that if an employee becomes eligible within 12 months of birth (e.g. child acquires Singapore citizenship), they can apply for GPML and may receive the remaining leave from the date they become eligible.

Foreign or permanent resident working in Singapore

Foreign or permanent resident employees working under a Singapore employment pass are entitled to the same benefits as citizens depending on employment type (employed or self-employed) and eligibility for GPML. However, specific company policies may vary for non-citizens.

Employers are also legally required to inform the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) of any changes if foreign workers become pregnant. 

Birth of twins or triplets 

For working mothers giving birth to twins or triplets, it will be treated as a single delivery and receive the same GPML or Employment Act benefits mentioned above. Employees are not entitled to double maternity benefits. 

Single or unmarried mothers

Single or unmarried mothers are entitled to the same benefits as married mothers based on their employment status and eligibility. 

However, there are additional resources and support available from social service organizations such as Baby Bonus and the ComCare Assistance scheme, offering additional financial support for single mothers. 

Premature birth

Employees who meet the eligibility criteria and experience a premature birth should start their maternity leave on the birth date of their child or earlier if they mutually agree with their employers.

Employers can also offer additional medical leave benefits, such as hospitalization leave, if an employee needs to stay in the hospital after her baby’s discharge. 

Complications or illness

Working mothers experiencing complications during or after childbirth are not eligible for paid sick leave while on maternity leave. 

If they are not on maternity leave, they may apply for medical leave, which is subject to the doctor’s approval and company policy. Depending on the situation, hospitalization leave may be required, along with additional medical leave benefits that the company provides.

Adoption

As a mother of an adopted child, you are not entitled to paid maternity leave but instead, paid adoption leave. The MOM provides guidelines on adoption leave and mothers are entitled to 12 weeks of paid adoption leave if eligible. 

Abortion or miscarriage

According to MOM guidelines, employees are not entitled to maternity leave if there has been an abortion or miscarriage. 

However, some companies may offer compassionate leave in such situations based on company policies. Similarly, sick leave can also be provided for employees to recover. 

Changing jobs while on maternity leave

Employees who change jobs while on maternity leave are not allowed to transfer any unused leave to their new company. 

The new employer is also not obligated to honor the existing maternity leave. Employees may need to use up remaining leave with their previous employer or take unpaid leave with the new one. 

Important things to note for maternity leave Singapore

  • Working mothers who are qualified for GPML can also share their leave benefits with their husbands under Shared Parental Leave (SPL) scheme. 
  • Employees may choose to start maternity leave 4 weeks before the delivery date and no later. All maternity leave must be taken within 12 months from the child’s date of birth. 
  • The first 8 weeks of maternity leave must be taken in one continuous block (including weekends and public holidays), while the last 8 weeks are flexible. 
  • Employees are not allowed to use maternity leave to offset the notice period when they resign.
  • Employees are also not allowed to transfer unused maternity leave Singapore to their spouse or encash when they resign. 

Streamline Maternity Leave Singapore Management

maternity leave Singapore

Maternity leave Singapore plays a crucial role in supporting working mothers during the childbirth period. Understanding the policies and ensuring compliance is essential for organizations to create a supportive work environment, boosting morale and employee engagement. Addressing these maternity leave Singapore challenges requires HR professionals to invest in modern leave management systems

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Omni’s all-in-one HRIS makes it possible to manage the entire end-to-end employee life cycle in one platform. Our robust time off management capabilities allow HR teams to streamline the management process of maternity leave Singapore.  With customizable leave allowances, employers can set maternity leave criteria based on Singapore standards, company policies, or individual eligibility, simplifying compliance efforts and standardizing benefit allocation for their teams. These automated processes help HR professionals track eligibility, manage maternity leave applications, and ensure proper reimbursement with ease, while ensuring employees get the time they need to recover and return to work productive and engaged. 

Omni also seamlessly integrates with your team’s most loved work tools such as Slack, enabling managers to receive and manage time off approvals directly within the messaging platform, removing time-consuming steps from leave management with a quick push of a button. With automated calculations, employees and managers can easily view maternity leave balances in real-time without the intervention of HR. 

Our employee self-service portal empowers employees to swiftly submit their maternity leave requests, automatically routing to the appropriate managers with customizable approval workflows. And our user-friendly mobile application allows for on-the-go approvals and communication, so you can manage leave balances and employee benefits from anywhere. 

Our localized solutions and unified system merges your maternity leave Singapore management efforts with payroll processing, facilitating automatic, accurate calculations and compliance with local regulations. 

Book a demo with us today to learn more about how Omni can transform your leave management processes, saving you time, reducing administrative burdens, and enhancing overall efficiency.

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