Singapore: Upcoming Changes in Parental Leave Policies
Recently, the Singaporean government has introduced an amendment to Parental leave benefits in the latest Budget 2023 which shall bring about significant changes to paternity leave and unpaid infant care leave (UICL).
Currently, in accordance with the Government Paid Paternity Leave (GPPL) eligible working fathers, including adoptive fathers and self-employed are entitled to 2 weeks of paid paternity leave funded by the Government.
Effective from January 1, 2024, eligible working fathers will be entitled to take 4 weeks of paternity leave within 12 months from the child’s date of birth (inclusive of date of birth).
The paternity leave period should start no earlier than the child’s date of birth (for natural fathers) or the Formal Intent to Adopt (FIA) date (for adoptive fathers). It should not extend beyond 12 months from the child’s date of birth, including the birth date.
The employee usually takes all the time off at once within 16 weeks after the baby is born. However, if both the employer and the employee agree, they can decide to take the leave at different times within the first 12 months.
Pay: The government will reimburse or pay for all 4 weeks of GPPL, capped at $2,500 per week or a total of $10,000.
Eligibility: The eligibility for paternity leave is as follows:
- For natural fathers with live birth, the child’s date of birth or estimated delivery date must be on or after January 1, 2017.
- The child must be a Singapore citizen.
- The father should be lawfully married to the child’s mother at some point between conception and the child’s birth or within 12 months from the child’s date of birth.
Notice Requirement: Employees are required to inform their employer promptly to confirm their eligibility for the program. They should then proceed to submit the GPPL1 declaration form along with the necessary documents and follow the employer’s specified process for the GPPL application.
On the other hand, employers are responsible for collecting the GPPL1 form and supporting documents from employees and verifying their eligibility. Furthermore, it is the employer’s duty to maintain records for a period of 5 years. Subsequently, they should submit reimbursement claims through the GPL Portal within 3 months of the employee’s completion of the GPPL.
Unpaid Infant Care Leave
Unpaid Infant Care Leave (UICL) provides assistance to qualifying working parents such as adoptive, foster parents, step-parents, and legal guardians who are attending to the needs of their newborn children, adopted or foster child/children.
Currently, eligible working parents who have any Singapore citizen child below 2 years old can enjoy 6 working days of unpaid leave per relevant period for each parent who has a Singapore citizen child below 2 years old.
Relevant Period – The relevant period is the calendar year or any 12-month relevant period with mutual agreement between employer and employee.
Effective January 1, 2024, eligible working parents who have a child below the age of 2 years shall be entitled to 12 working days of unpaid leave per relevant period.
Eligibility Criteria :
- The child is a Singaporean citizen below the age of 2 years during the relevant period.
- Employees have completed a continuous service period of at least 3 months.
- Adoptive parents become eligible after the Adoption Order is passed.
Key Points to Note:
- Non-Transferable: UICL cannot be transferred to a spouse.
- No Carryover: Unused UICL cannot be carried over to the next relevant period and cannot offset the notice period during termination.
- Natural Father Eligibility: Natural fathers are ineligible if they or the natural mother were lawfully married to someone else at the time of conception and did not subsequently marry each other.
- Termination Impact: Eligibility under an employer ceases upon termination of employment, and no payment in lieu thereof is provided.
- Adoption Impact: Parents lose eligibility if their child is adopted by someone else, excluding joint adoption with the parent.
- Foster Care Consideration: A foster parent without current caregiving responsibilities for the child loses eligibility for UICL.
- Maximum Limit: A parent cannot claim more than 24 days of UICL for any child.
Take Away – Singapore employers must take proactive steps to comply with the amendments before January 1, 2024. They must review and potentially revise their policies in order to align with the upcoming changes to the existing leave requirements.