The new Enhanced Marriage & Parenthood Package 2013 comes into effect from 1 May 2013. The new Package, which seeks to help Singaporeans through marriage and parenthood offers the following benefits for working individuals:
• Currently, pregnant employees who are (i) dismissed without sufficient cause within 6 months from their confinement (i.e. the estimated delivery date); or (ii) retrenched within 3 months from their confinement, are entitled to the maternity leave benefits that they would have otherwise received if they were not dismissed/retrenched. Beginning 1 May 2013, employers are required to pay maternity leave benefits to female employees who are dismissed without sufficient cause or retrenched within the full duration of their pregnancy.
• Employees who are not eligible for paid maternity leave may apply to receive Government-Paid Maternity Benefits, as long as:
(i) they have been in employment for a total of at least 90 days within the 12 months preceding delivery of the child;
(ii) the child is a Singapore citizen; and
(iii) the employee is lawfully married to the child’s father.
The Government- paid entitlement is equivalent to 8 weeks’ salary for the 1st and 2nd child, and 16 weeks’ salary for the 3rd and subsequent children.
• The current paid childcare leave of 6 days per calendar year applies to employees whose children are below the age of 7 and meet the qualifying criteria set out in the Child Development Co-Savings Act (CDCA). Beginning 1 May 2013, employees with children aged between 7-12 years (and meet the CDCA requirements) will each receive 2 days of Government-paid childcare leave in each calendar year. Where parents have children in both age groups, paid childcare leave is capped at 6 days per year.
• Currently, employers may voluntarily provide 4 weeks of Government-paid adoption leave to eligible employees who adopt a child below 12 months of age. From 1 May 2013, employers will be required by law to provide this adoption leave to eligible mothers who adopt a child below 12 months of age.
• Working fathers will now receive 1 week of Government-paid paternity leave per confinement, to be taken within 16 weeks after the child is born. This paternity leave can also be taken flexibly within 12 months after the birth of child, if the employer and employee mutually agree on this. Paternity leave will be funded by the Government (capped at S$2,500 per week, inclusive of CPF contributions).
• In addition, working fathers can now share 1 week of the 16 weeks of their spouse’s maternity leave (that their spouse is entitled to under the Child Development Co-Savings Act), subject to their spouse’s agreement. Although this shared parental leave scheme will take effect from 1 May 2013, employers are encouraged to provide shared parental leave to all eligible employees with children born on or after 1 January 2013. The shared parental leave can be taken either in a continuous block of 1 week, or flexibly within 12 months from the birth of the child (subject to mutual agreement between the employer and employee).
Employers should take note of the above leave enhancements, and amend their employment policies accordingly.
This article is part of the Asia Employment newsletter for March 2013.