SINGAPORE: New fathers will get two weeks of Government-paid paternity leave, while unwed mothers will get 16 weeks of maternity leave from Jan 1, 2017, after Parliament passed changes to the Child Development Co-Savings Act (CDCA) on Thursday (Nov 10, 2016).
Under the present policy, fathers are entitled to only one week of compulsory, Government-paid paternity leave, with addition second week provided by their employers on a voluntary basis. Unwed mothers, meanwhile, are entitled to eight weeks of maternity leave under the Employment Act.
In response to a question on the take-up rate for paternity leave, Mr. Tan Chuan-Jin (Minister for Social and Family Development) noted that this was 42 per cent in 2015 and 38 per cent in 2014.
Speaking in Parliament on Thursday (Nov 10, 2016), he said that studies will be conducted to investigate what is preventing more fathers from exercising their paternity leave entitlement.
DADS CAN TAKE UP TO TWO MONTHS’ LEAVE IN BABY’S FIRST YEAR
The Amendment Bill also provided for shared parental leave to be increased from the current one to four weeks, with effect from Jul 1, 2017. This refers to leave taken from the spouse’s maternity leave if she opts to share it.
Shared parental leave was introduced in mid-2013. According to data from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), about 1,400 mothers shared maternity leave with their husbands last year, roughly the same as in 2014.
All in, “about 4,000 fathers have taken shared parental leave as at end-August 2016,” said Mr. Tan, adding that even though the leave enhancements are focused on the critical infant period, active fatherhood must continue beyond infancy.
Including the six days of childcare leave and one week of unpaid infant care leave that the Fathers are currently entitled the new policy changes will bring the number of leave days fathers can take in their child’s first year to up to two months.
PARITY FOR CHILDREN BORN TO UNWED MUMS
The extension of maternity leaves benefits in the new policy for unwed mothers complements an earlier move to ensure that children will not be excluded from state support for the fact that they were born to unwed parents.
Earlier this year, Mr. Tan announced that children of unwed parents, born
Based on statistics provided by MSF, there were 518 children born to unwed mothers in 2015, compared to 557 in 2014.
SUPPORT FOR ADOPTIVE PARE
Other key changes to the CDCA provide for greater support for adoptive parents.
Currently, adoption leave is
There were 326 adoption applications in 2015, down slightly from 352 in 2014. In general, about half of all adoption applications are for children below 12 months old.
Less than 5 percent of adoption applications are by unwed people, according to data provided by MSF.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Two weeks of paid paternity leave: Fathers can choose to clear the two-week block of leave within 16 weeks from the birth of the child.
Alternatively, they can work out an agreement with their employer to take the leave flexibly by days within a year from the birth of the child.
Four weeks of shared parental leave: Parents can decide how to apportion the four weeks of shared parental leave between them at any time before the child turns 1 year old. The decision cannot be changed once it is made.
Fathers can choose to use the shared leave in one continuous stretch or flexibly by days, subject to his employer’s agreement.
12 weeks of adoption leave for mothers: This must be used within a year