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Maternity Leave in Singapore – A Guide for Overseas Employers

Hiring employees overseas will mean that your company will have to comply with employment laws in a foreign country, including benefits such as leave entitlements.  For female employees, maternity leave is often set by statute with minimum leave days, qualification employment period and how it is paid.

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Overview of Maternity Leave in Singapore

If you have employees in Singapore, you may find that the rules and regulations differ from your home country or other locations where you have foreign operations.  As with all employment laws, maternity leave entitlements will apply to both local residents as well as expats on assignment, however, the leave rules are different for a Singaporean resident.

Maternity Leave Rules in Singapore

There have been recent changes to Singapore’s maternity leave laws under the Child Development Co-Savings Act, which allocates the leave days as well as which parts are paid by the employer and government.  Specifically, the Government Paid Maternity Leave is only available to residents, not foreigners.

  • The minimum paid maternity leave entitlement is 12 weeks, and if the child will be a Singaporean citizen (the most likely case) it is 16 weeks.
  • The mother must be legally married to the child’s father.
  • Employment must have begun at least three months before the birth of the child.
  • For Singaporeans, the first eight weeks are paid by the employer and the next eight weeks are paid by the government.
  • The government portion is claimed by the employer and then reimbursed.

Client Case Example

Context:

One of our clients with employees in Singapore had a question about what to do if their company leave policies were different from the statutory rules.  Their policy dictated a longer period of employment before qualifying (six months), and then fully paid by the employer up to 12 weeks.  After that, the employee could take another 40 weeks unpaid for a total of 52 weeks.

Issue:

The issue with their company policy was how to reconcile it with the standards and minimums in Singapore, as well as how to handle the government paid portion which was not included in the policy.

Solution:

We advised our client that their contractual policies and terms for leave could not be less than the minimum statutory allowance in Singapore, even if it resulted in a higher benefit than for home country employees.  Here is what we suggested:

  • The six month employment period would need to be reduced to three months to qualify for maternity leave benefits.
  • The first 12 weeks could still be paid for all employees by the employer (as long as it was taken continuously, and within 12 weeks of when the child is born.)
  • The next four weeks would be paid by the Singapore government (if the child is a resident), for a total of sixteen weeks.
  • The following 36-40 weeks would be unpaid leave, up to a total of 52 weeks if the employee wanted more leave time.
  • For Singaporeans, these entitlements would apply to the first and second child, and all subsequent births could have the entire sixteen weeks paid by the government.

We told our client that this policy would comply with Singapore’s statute, because it met the minimums for both residents and expats.

Need More Information for Singapore?

Maternity leave rules can be complicated, and many of our clients turn to us for assistance in navigating these rules.  Through our in country experts and local employer of record we make sure that all employment contracts and policies comply with statutory standards.

If you need more information, we can show you how we handle issues like:

Matching company leave policies to host country regulations

Drafting employment contracts that met statutory leave entitlements

Ensuring that qualification periods for maternity leave have been met by the employee

With experience in all aspects of immigration, payroll and employment laws in most global markets, we can make international employment simple for your company.

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Looking to Hire an Employee in Singapore? Get in touch.

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