Childcare leave in Singapore is applicable to employees who have recently become new parents. This paid leave of absence is granted to parents who need to spend quality time with their children.
With so many milestones in a child’s life, parents need to be a part of and witness those milestones. Childcare leave makes this possible, and working parents in Singapore would benefit from understanding their entitlements under this law.
This guide briefly discusses childcare leave in Singapore, how parents can apply, and what parents can do if their employer denies them this legal right.
Why Is Childcare Leave Important?
We’ve established that childcare leaves give Singapore working parents opportunities to spend time with their children.
In Singapore and other cultures worldwide, childcare leave is one measure of economic progress. Children in their formative years must spend as much time with their parents as possible.
Aside from that, children are not yet physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially developed to perform certain activities. But, parents can apply for childcare leave to:
- Take their children to immunisations, and other related medical appointments
- Accompany their children during the first day of classes
- Bring the children home during school closures or when parents aren’t able to arrange for daycare stays
- Stay home and care for their children if the latter fall sick
Together with the employer, the government partially pays for childcare leave. This eases the financial burden, especially for self-employed parents who will no longer have to spend their savings for medical emergencies while on childcare leave.
Who Can Apply For Childcare Leave In Singapore?
According to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, you and your spouse can each get 6 days of childcare leave annually until the child turns 7. This is regardless of how many children you have.
You get an additional 2 days of extended childcare leave if your youngest child is 7 to 12 years of age.
You and your spouse are considered eligible working parents if you both satisfy the following conditions:
- You have been working with your current employer for at least 3 months (for employees)
- You have been self-employed for at least 3 months but will potentially lose income during the childcare leave period
Working parents can take 6 days of childcare leave annually as part of a mutual agreement between employee and employer. In the absence of such an agreement or if the parent is self-employed, the yearly childcare leave entitlement will follow the calendar year (1 January to 31 December).
All of the above will apply, regardless of how many children you have. For example, if you have three children under the age of 7, you’ll still only have 6 days of childcare leave per year.
Who Is Entitled To Childcare Leave If Both Parents Work For The Same Employer?
If you and your spouse work for the same employer and have been employees for at least 3 months, you will each be entitled to 6 days of basic childcare leave, plus 2 days of extended childcare leave.
However, there are cases wherein a male employee is not entitled to childcare leave (government-paid or unpaid):
- If he is the child’s biological father;
- But he or the child’s biological mother was married to a different person;
- Or, both were not legally married to one another when the child was born (due to an extramarital affair or child out of wedlock).
The only time the father can also be entitled to government-paid or unpaid childcare leave is if he marries the biological mother.
How Do I Determine My Childcare Leave Entitlement?
Provided that you aren’t a new employee or aren’t planning to resign from your company this year, you are still eligible to claim the 6 or 2 days of extended childcare leave.
However, if you’ve been working for your employer for less than 12 months or have plans of resigning this year, your childcare leave will be prorated according to your total length of employment.
Here’s a table to calculate childcare leave entitlement for new hires working with their employers for less than a year:
|Months of Employment||No. of Childcare Leaves (In Days)|
|0-2||Not eligible for childcare leave|
If you plan on resigning from your employer this year, your childcare leave entitlement will also be prorated based on how many months of employment service you’ve rendered on the year of your resignation:
|Months of Employment||No. of Childcare Leaves (In Days)|
|0-2||2 (must have been employed for at least 3 months before resignation)|
Self-employed, fixed-term contractors and temporary/part-time working parents are also entitled to childcare leave. However, the total number of days of paid childcare leave depends on the employment hours.
Here’s how to compute for your paid childcare leaves if you fall under the category above:
Hours of part-time work in a day x 2 days minimum childcare leave
For better illustration, picture a part-time working parent who clocks in 4 hours of work daily. They will be entitled to 8 hours of childcare leave.
4 hours x 2 days = 8 hours
How To Apply For Childcare Leave In Singapore?
Working parents employed with a company are first urged to discuss childcare leave agreements with their employers. This is to help set expectations so the employee can arrange alternative work setups.
You will need to download and fill out the Government-Paid Childcare Leave (GCPL) declaration form and submit it to your employer. Make sure to attach supporting documents as necessary.
If you have previously claimed childcare leave days from a previous employer(s), these will be deducted from your annual entitlement.
Self-employed parents should track their childcare leave period and apply for an online claim through the Government-Paid Leave Portal no later than 3 months from the last day of the calendar year.
The government will reimburse up to 3 days of paid childcare leave, capped at $500 per day inclusive of CPF contributions.
Things You Can’t Do With Childcare Leave
Paid childcare leave is an entitlement granted by employers and the government. As such, it shall be used only per the provisions of the Ministry of Manpower.
With regards to your childcare leave, you are legally prohibited from doing the following:
- Transferring or sharing your childcare leave with your spouse
- Convert your unused childcare leave to cash, or transfer it to a new employer.
- Simultaneously file for no-pay leave and childcare leave.
Working parents must use up their childcare leave credits whenever applicable. Any unused leaves cannot be carried over into the next year nor be cashed out.
What Do I Do If My Employer Denies Me Childcare Leave Or Reimbursement?
Remember that employers are legally required to grant childcare leave to eligible working parents. Failure to do so will incur a fine of up to $5,000, up to 6 months of prison time, or both.
If you feel you have been wrongfully denied this entitlement as a working parent and employee, we advise you to reach out to the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management for a resolution.
On the other hand, self-employed working parents can file a written dispute to the Director of the Ministry of Social and Family Development or the Self-Employed Reimbursement Board.
The letter should contain the following:
- Amount of reimbursement claim
- Reasons for filing a written dispute
- The written decision from the Ministry of Social and Family Development or the Self-Employed Reimbursement Board.
- Other relevant supporting documents
Employers must strive for fairness, equality, and understanding. Part of their responsibilities is ensuring employees are given a fair chance to perform their duties as parents, wherever necessary.
But as with similar entitlements, disputes and problems are bound to arise. This could lead to emotional distress for both employee and employer.
Fortunately, legal remedies are available for childcare leave and other employment-related concerns.
Contact The Singapore Lawyer now for more information. Our Singapore law firm offers a free 30-minute consultation to first-time clients. We’ll be more than happy to discuss the details of your case and provide possible remedies.
Frequently Asked Questions About Childcare Leave In Singapore
Can I Still Claim Childcare Leave For Non-Singapore Citizen Children?
Yes. If your child is not a Singapore citizen, but you’re an employee for a Singapore-based company, you are still eligible for 2 days of paid childcare leave every year, as per the Employment Act.
Can I Still Claim Childcare Leave If I’m Not The Biological Parent?
Yes. Regardless of whether or not you are the child’s biological parent, you can still claim childcare leave. However, adoptive parents are eligible only after having their Adoption Order approved.
What Can I Do If I Can’t Take Paid Childcare Leave?
If you need to take care of your children but are unable to claim paid childcare leave, consider other childcare options, such as:
- Placing your child in a daycare centre
- Hiring a babysitter to care for the child
- Asking relatives or family members to care for the children
Are Singapore Permanent Residents Entitled To Childcare Leave?
Yes. Even as a Singapore PR, you’re entitled to childcare leave as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.