What is maternity leave?
Working mothers in Singapore are entitled for receiving paid maternity leave after they give birth to their child. Depending on whether your child is a Singapore citizen or not, you can receive between 12 to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave under the Government-Paid Maternity Leave Scheme or GPML.
Eligibility Criteria for Government-Paid Maternity Leave
You will receive 16 weeks of paid maternity leave under GPML if you meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Your newborn is a Singapore Citizen.
- You are legally married to the father of your child.
- If you are an employee, you have served your employer continuously for a period of 3 months before you give birth to your child.
- If you are self-employed, you have been working for a minimum of 3 months and have suffered loss of income during the period of your maternity leave.
During your paid maternity leave period, your employer will pay for your salary as usual. They will then claim for reimbursement from GPML scheme as per the following:
- For the birth of your first and second child, the first 8 weeks or maternity leave will be paid by your employer and the last 8 weeks will be paid by the government.
- From the birth of your third child onwards, all 16 weeks of maternity leave will be paid by the government.
If your child is NOT a Singapore citizen -
You will receive 12 weeks of paid maternity leave if you meet the above mentioned eligibility criteria and are covered under the Employment Act.
If you are a Permanent Resident or a Foreigner -
You will still receive 12 weeks of paid maternity leave if you have been employed for a period of 3 months and are covered under the Employment Act.
If you are a single or unmarried mother -
You will receive 12 weeks of paid maternity leave if you meet the eligibility criteria and are covered under the Employment Act.
If you are a part-time employee, contract employee or temporary employee -
Your salary will be calculated on a gross rate per day that you would have earned or required to work as per your contract.
If you are on probation –
You will receive paid maternity leave if you meet the eligibility criteria and you have been employed for a period of 3 months.
If you have given birth to twins –
It will be regarded as one delivery and you will not be entitled for double maternity benefits.
If you have given birth prematurely –
You can take your full maternity leave starting from when you give birth to your child.
If you have given birth to a stillborn baby –
You can take your full maternity leave in case you give birth to a stillborn baby or if your newborn dies shortly after you give birth. Also, your stillborn baby will not be considered for determining your eligibility for subsequent pregnancies.
In case of abortion or miscarriage –
You will not be eligible to receive maternity leave. You will have to apply for a paid sick leave instead.
If you fall ill during your maternity leave –
In case you fall ill/sick during your maternity leave, you will not be eligible to take paid sick leave while you are already on maternity leave.
What happens if you are NOT eligible for GPML?
In order to be eligible to receive maternity leave under the GPML scheme, you have to be employed for a minimum of 3 months.
You may still be eligible for leave under GPML even if you are not married to the father of the child or if your child will not be a Singapore citizen at the time of birth if you meet all the eligibility criteria within a period of 12 months from the birth of your child.
If you meet the eligibility criteria within a period of 12 months since your child’s birth –
- You will be entitled for the remaining period of your maternity leave after you meet all the eligibility criteria.
- You have to take the balance of your maternity leave (how much ever you are entitled for) before your child reaches 12 months of age.
- Once your child turns 12 months, the maternity period will elapse and you will not entitled for paid maternity leave under GPML.
Maternity Leave Protection
You will have maternity protection from dismissal or retrenchment without cause during your pregnancy if you have served your employer for a minimum of 3 months. Your employer will have to pay you for your maternity benefits if you qualify for them by meeting the following criteria:
- You have served your employer for a minimum of 3 months before your receive a notice of retrenchment/dismissal.
- You have been certified as being pregnant by a doctor/medical practitioner before you receive the notice of retrenchment/dismissal.
Your obligations as an employee –
- You cannot make use of your maternity leave for offsetting your resignation notice. Once you resign from your job, you are no longer entitled to maternity benefits.
- You will not be eligible to work for any other employer while on your maternity leave. If you do so, your current employer can forfeit your maternity benefits and dismiss you from your employment.
Your employer’s obligations –
Your employer will have to fulfill the following obligations while you are on maternity leave:
- Your employer cannot dismiss you from employment while you are on your maternity leave. It will be considered as an offense to do so.
- Your employer cannot ask you to work during the first 4 weeks of your confinement.
Claiming for a dispute regarding maternity leave
You can appeal against or file a claim against your employer for a dispute over maternity leave if you have been dismissed unfairly.
- You will have to submit a written appeal to the MOM after you have been dismissed and within two months of your child’s birth.
- If you are a union member, you can even seek the help of your union.
- You can seek legal aid.
- You will have to pay S$3 through NETS FlashPay or EZ-Link for labor court to hear your case.
- The process of claim will take 14 business days.
You can either submit your claim online on the MOM website or you can send a letter to the MOM. You will have to provide the following information on your claim:
- The date of claim and subject.
- Your name.
- Your NRIC.
- Your contact information.
- Your personal email address.
- Your EDD.
- Your current job position.
- Your service period which should include your start and end date of service with your employer.
- Your last drawn salary.
You must also include the following information regarding your claim:
- The reason/s your employer provided you when your employment was terminated or you were dismissed.
- The reasons why you feel that your employment was terminated or you were dismissed unfairly.
- Did your employer give you a notice of termination/dismissal?
- Any relevant documents pertaining to your appeal – this can include your termination letter, warning letter/s, employment contract etc.
Tips on planning your maternity leave
The following tips can come in handy when you plan on taking your maternity leave:
- Make sure to inform your employer a minimum of 1 week in advance before you start your maternity leave.
- You and your employer should mutually agree upon your leave schedule.
- It is ideal to take your maternity leave continuously for 12 or 16 weeks (whichever you are eligible for) starting from 4 weeks before your delivery date.
- You can calculate your maternity leave dates on the MOM website.
- You can work out flexible work/leave arrangements such as half-day work schemes of shorter work weeks with your employer.
Your maternity period can be both joyous as well as stressful, but by making the right choices and taking the right decisions, you can make this period more joyous than stressful. It is always better to stay informed regarding what you are entitled for during your maternity period and measures you can take if you do not receive what you deserve and have the right to get.