The Children Development Co-Savings Act (CDCA) provides enhanced benefits and government support to parents of children who are Singapore citizens over and above those provided more broadly to employees under the Employment Act (EA). Under the EA alone, fathers of children who are not Singapore citizens are not entitled to paternity leave, but they are entitled to take two days per year of employer-paid childcare leave. Although the Singapore government encourages employers to provide paid paternity leave to all fathers, the GPPL only mandates leave and reimburses employers when the new child is a Singapore citizen.
The new legislation only amends family leave provisions under the CDCA and does not make any changes to the EA.
Currently, fathers of a newborn Singapore citizen are entitled to two weeks of paid paternity leave. Employers can claim reimbursement through the GPPL program at rate capped at SGD 2,500 per week. The new law will reimburse employers of eligible fathers at existing rates for up to four weeks of paid paternity leave. The law does not currently require employers to grant an additional two weeks, but that is expected to become a requirement in the future.
Paid paternity leave is ordinarily taken in the 16 weeks following the birth or adoption of the child, unless otherwise mutually agreed between employer and employee within 12 months after the child’s birth. To be eligible for GPPL:
- The child must be a Singapore citizen.
- The father must be lawfully married to the child’s mother between conception and birth.
- The father must have at least three months of continuous service with their current employer preceding the date of childbirth.
- Adoptive fathers of a child who is a Singapore citizen must have at least three months of continuous service with their current employer preceding the date of their formal intent to adopt.
Fathers who meet the eligibility criteria and whose child becomes a Singapore citizen within 12 months of birth are also eligible. GPPL is also payable in case of a stillbirth. Multiple births are treated the same as a single birth. GPPL is equal to 100% of the employee’s salary during a six-day workweek, capped at SGD 2,500 per week (the government reimbursement limit, including employer Central Provident Fund contributions).
Unpaid infant care leave
Currently, a working parent is entitled to 6 days per year of unpaid infant care leave after three months of continuous service with their current employer if they have a child under age two who is a Singapore citizen. From 1 January 2024, this leave will be doubled to 12 days per parent per year, regardless of the number of children.
Employers should monitor the implementation timeline of the law and start preparing for compliance by amending their internal HR leave policies and practices and employment agreements, if needed.
Employers who currently offer greater than two weeks of paid paternity leave will be able to reduce their expenses by claiming reimbursement from the government for eligible fathers. Because additional paternity leave has not yet been mandated as part of the 1 January 2024 changes (only two weeks are mandated for covered fathers), employers can decide whether to offer the additional two weeks. Employers should consider the likely high value of extending similar paid and unpaid leave benefits to parents whether their children are Singapore citizens or not.