Paternity Leave and Maternity Leave in Singapore (2021) vs the World

by pregnancy journalist

From colleagues to friends, many people around me are either engaged to be married or are already married.

And naturally for most, having a kid will come next.

stork carrying baby
Source: Giphy

While I know we have it good in Singapore (did you know that we pay one of the lowest income tax in the world?), I can’t help but wonder.

How do we fare against the rest of the world when it comes to maternity leave?

And since we’re on this topic:

  • How much maternity leave is a mother entitled to in Singapore?
  • Do we actually have a LOT of maternity and paternity leave?
  • Is it an international norm to have paid maternity and paternity leave?

Yeah… I’m a pretty curious kid.

Information accurate as of 28 Dec 2020.


TL;DR: Paternity Leave and Maternity Leave in Singapore vs the World

Here’s a quick comparison of the different maternity and paternity leaves around the world.

You’ll be surprised how generous some countries are with their maternity benefits.

(Spoiler alert: Singapore is not one of them).

Country Paid Maternity Leave Paid Paternity/Partner Leave
Africa
Egypt ~13 weeks (90 days)

(75% of monthly salary paid by social insurance, 25% by employer)

Americas
Canada 15 weeks

(55% of monthly salary paid out by employment insurance)

Up to 61 weeks of shared parental benefits

(33% – 55% of monthly salary paid out by employment insurance)

Mexico 12 weeks

(Paid out by social security)

5 days

(Paid out by social security)

Oceania
Australia Up to 18 weeks

(Paid by Government but capped at the national minimum wage level)

2 weeks

(Paid by Government at the national minimum wage level)

New Zealand 26 weeks

(Paid by Government)

Asia
Singapore Up to 16 weeks

(Paid by employer and the government)

2 weeks

(Paid by employer and the government)

Malaysia ~13 weeks (90 days)
W.E.F. 1 Jan 2021

(Paid by employer)

Not mandated, depends on company
Hong Kong 14 weeks

(80% of monthly salary paid by employer and Government)

5 days

(80% of monthly salary paid by employer and Government)

China 14 weeks

(Paid by Government at varying rates)

Japan 14 weeks

Up to one year of child care leave

(Up to 2/3 of base salary covered by social insurance)

Up to one year of child care leave

(Up to 2/3 of base salary covered by social insurance)

South Korea Up to ~17 weeks (120 days)

(Paid by employer and Government)

10 Days

(Paid by employer and Government)

India 26 weeks
Iraq 14 weeks
Europe
United Kingdom 39 weeks

Up to 90% of average weekly earnings paid by employer

Up to two weeks

(£151.20, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) paid by employer)

Germany 14 weeks
Netherlands Up to 20 weeks

(Paid by employment insurance and capped at €203 a day)

1 week

Paid by employer

Denmark Up to 52 weeks

Additional 32 weeks shared by parents/partners

(Paid by employer or Government)

Two weeks

Additional 32 weeks shared by parents/partners

(Paid by employer or Government)

Sweden 16 months shared between parents

(80% of monthly salary with cap)

16 months shared between parents

(80% of monthly salary with cap)

Some key takeaways:

  • But mothers who are expecting a Singapore citizen (SC) child will be able to qualify for an additional 4 weeks thanks to the Government-Paid Maternity Leave – this would effectively give them 16 weeks of maternity leave
  • There is no international standard for paternity leave: it’s not as common as maternity leave, especially when you look past Singapore’s shores
  • The Swedes really value the importance of bonding with their child during the initial years of life hence they have a whopping 480 days of parental leave

It is key to take note that there are differences between maternity, paternity, and parental leave.

Each country also has different nuances to how one can qualify for maternity, paternity, or parental leave.

For the sake of simple comparison, this article will not explore too much into parental leave and allow maternity and paternity leave to be the main focus as parental leave is a whole different topic with specific nuances unique to different countries.


Maternity Leave And Paternity Leave In Singapore

You’ll be glad to know that mothers and fathers-to-be are entitled to paid maternity or paternity leave in Singapore.

Here is how it works.

Maternity Leave Singapore

When it comes to maternity leave in Singapore, the amount that working mothers get depends largely on the child’s nationality.

Their child will also have to be born or have an estimated delivery date on or after 1 Jan 2017.

Another important thing to take note of is that expecting mothers will need to give their employer’s at least one week’s notice before they go on maternity leave.

If this is not done, expecting mothers will only be entitled to half the maternity leave payment unless they have a valid reason for not giving the advance notice.

Child is Not a Singapore Citizen (SC)

If the child is not an SC, their expecting mothers are eligible for maternity leave of four weeks before the birth of her child and eight weeks after birth under the Employment Act.

The mother must also have been working for their employer as an employee or have been self-employed for at least 3 consecutive months before the birth of their child.

This adds up to a total of 12 weeks worth of maternity leave.

However, do note that only the first eight weeks of maternity leave is paid maternity leave.

The remaining four weeks of maternity leave are unpaid.

Child is a Singapore Citizen (SC)

On the other hand, if their child is an SC, working mothers in Singapore will be entitled to a total of 16 weeks of paid maternity leave under the Government Paid Maternity Leave (GPML) scheme.

Government Paid Maternity Leave (GPML) Scheme

The Government of Singapore has put in place the Government-Paid Maternity Leave (GPML) scheme.

If the child is an SC, expecting mothers are given an additional four weeks of government-paid maternity leave, on top of the 12 weeks of paid maternity leave that they’re already entitled to.

Also, the expecting mother must have been working for an employer as an employee (or have been self-employed) for a period of at least 3 months before the birth of her child.

Paternity Leave Singapore

Fathers in Singapore, relax.

You are not forgotten.

Government Paid Paternity Leave (GPPL) Scheme

Under the Government Paid Paternity Leave (GPPL) scheme, working fathers in Singapore are entitled to two weeks of paid paternity leave.

However, there are quite a few conditions attached to this:

  • Your child will have to be an SC.
  • You will need to be lawfully married to the child’s mother between conception and birth.
  • For employees: you will have to be employed by your employee for at least three consecutive months before the birth of your child.
  • For self-employed: you have been engaged in your work for a continuous period of at least 3 months before the birth of your child, and have lost income during the paternity leave period.

Adoptive Fathers Paid Paternity Leave Singapore

In addition, adoptive fathers are also eligible for paid paternity leave if they fulfil these conditions:

  • Your child will have to be an SC.
  • For employees: you will have to be employed by your employee for at least three consecutive months before the birth of your child.
  • For self-employed: you have been engaged in your work for a continuous period of at least 3 months before the birth of your child, and have lost income during the paternity leave period.

But, you might be thinking. Isn’t two weeks too little?

Here’s where the shared parental leave comes in.

Shared Parental Leave Singapore

If the mother is qualified for the GPML scheme, she can choose to share her GPML leave with her lawfully married husband who is the father of the child.

This leave will be recognised as shared parental leave, and this would allow the father to receive up to an additional 4 weeks of paid parental leave (note that it’s not paternity leave).

However, it is important to note that parental leave is only eligible for fathers who are married to the mother of their child.

I believe that as Singaporeans, we’re pretty lucky to have paid parental leave.

Granted, such schemes are probably all in the name of boosting our population rates in anticipation of a greying population.


How Does Maternity And Paternity Leave In Singapore Compare With The Rest Of The World?

For ease of reference, here’s Singapore’s maternity and paternity leave:

Country Paid Maternity Leave Paid Paternity Leave
Singapore Up to 16 weeks

Paid by employer and the government

2 weeks

Paid by employer and the government

And here’s the rest of the world’s sorted them into the major inhabited continents:

Africa

Country Paid Maternity Leave Unpaid Maternity Leave Paid Paternity/Partner Leave Unpaid Paternity Leave
Egypt ~13 weeks (90 days)

75% of monthly salary paid by social insurance, 25% by employer

Americas

Country Paid Maternity Leave Unpaid Maternity Leave Paid Paternity/Partner Leave Unpaid Paternity Leave
Canada 15 weeks

(55% of monthly salary paid out by employment insurance)

Up to 61 weeks of shared parental benefits

(33% – 55% of monthly salary paid out by employment insurance)

Mexico 12 weeks

(Paid out by social security)

5 days

(Paid out by social security)

Oceania 

Country Paid Maternity Leave Unpaid Maternity Leave Paid Paternity/Partner Leave Unpaid Paternity Leave
Australia Up to 18 weeks

Paid by Government but capped at the national minimum wage level

Up to 12 Months 2 weeks (same-sex partners can also apply for this leave)

Paid by Government at the national minimum wage level

New Zealand Up to 26 weeks from Government 10 days special leave (if pregnant)

26 weeks primary carer leave

52 weeks unpaid extended leave
(including up to 26 weeks of primary
carer leave taken)

Mother can transfer up to 26 weeks of
parental leave payment to partner if
partner is the primary carer for this time
2 Weeks

Partner may share remaining extended
leave up to a total of 52 weeks (including
26 weeks primary carer leave)

Asia

Country Paid Maternity Leave Unpaid Maternity Leave Paid Paternity/Partner Leave Unpaid Paternity Leave
Malaysia ~13 weeks (90 days)
W.E.F. 1 Jan 2021
Depends on company Not mandated, depends on company
Public Sector: 7-14 days
Depends on company
Hong Kong 14 weeks

(80% of monthly salary paid by employer and Government)

5 days

(80% of monthly salary paid by employer and Government)

14 weeks

(Paid by Government at varying rates)

Japan 14 weeks

Up to one year of child care leave

(Up to 2/3 of base salary covered by social insurance)

Up to one year of child care leave

(Up to 2/3 of base salary covered by social insurance)

South Korea ~13 weeks (90 days)

~17 weeks (120 days if mother is pregnant with >1 child)

(Paid by employer and Government)

10 Days
India 26 weeks
Iraq 14 weeks Depends on company Depends on company

Europe 

Country Paid Maternity Leave Unpaid Maternity Leave Paid Paternity/Partner Leave Unpaid Paternity Leave
United Kingdom 39 weeks

Up to 90% of average weekly earnings paid by employer

13 weeks Up to two weeks

£151.20, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) paid by employer

Up to 18 weeks of parental leave
Germany 14 weeks Up to 2 years

Can claim parental allowance (Elterngeld) for first 14 months

Up to 2 years

Can claim parental allowance (Elterngeld) for first 14 months

Netherlands Up to 20 weeks

(Paid by employment insurance and capped at €203 a day)

1 week

Paid by employer

5 weeks

(Can still claim 70% of pay from Employment Insurance)

Denmark Up to 52 weeks

(Additional 32 weeks shared by parents/partners)

Paid by employer or Government

Two weeks

(Additional 32 weeks shared by parents/partners)

Paid by employer or Government

Sweden 16 months shared between parents

(80% of monthly salary with cap)

16 months shared between parents

(80% of monthly salary with cap)

While gathering these figures, I discovered some interesting facts regarding maternity and paternity leave:

1. Pregnancy Leave

In Singapore, the leave that an expectant mother takes before the birth of her child is considered maternity leave.

But in the Netherlands, there is an additional pregnancy leave which women can take before their maternity leave.

This pregnancy leave entitles women to take up to four weeks of pregnancy leave before the baby is due. Pretty cool huh?

2. Countries With Generous Maternity Leave Entitlement

These countries offer really, REALLY generous maternity leave entitlements as compared to Singapore’s paltry 16 weeks:

  • The United Kingdom – 39 weeks
  • Denmark – 52 weeks
  • Sweeden – 16 months

3. Paternity Leave

Out of the 18 countries I listed, seven countries do not have any legally mandated paternity leave.

Incidentally, the different countries compared either offer 2 weeks or 5 days paternity leave, with the exception of Sweden.

4. 16 Months Of Parental Leave!?

Sweden has an extremely fascinating parental leave scheme.

As a country known for having one of the highest gender equality standards in the world, it comes as no surprise that the Swedes do not differentiate between their maternity and paternity leave.

In fact, Sweden has a very generous 16 months of paid parental leave, which can be split equally between both parents.

latte dads
Source: Sweden.se

According to Business Insider, it is very common to see ‘latte dads’ in Sweden.

‘Latte dads’ are the social phenomenon in which fathers take the role as the main caregiver and become stay-at-home-dads while mothers are able to return to work.


Closing Thoughts

Now with the above information, one must wonder if all the money spent on maternity and paternity is worth it.

Yes, fundamentally these policies and schemes are to encourage and maintain population growth.

And I definitely see the importance of maintaining the human race and the impact of bonding with a child during their initial moments after birth.

As such, my opinion is that raising a child in today’s society is an extremely huge responsibility and parents need all the help they can get.

This content was originally published here.

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