Know Your Employment Obligations - Maternity Leave

Find out what is your responsibility as an employer in granting and paying maternity leave.

17 Oct 2019 Articles Employment contract Best practices

Pregnant Lady

This article forms part of a series of pointers to help you better understand your employment obligations towards your employees. We hope that this information is of help when you review your HR practices and to ensure that you correctly apply the statutory provisions, in compliance with the Employment Act. 

In the previous article, we discussed hours of work. In this article, we will focus on the topic on the maternity leave as illustrated in the scenario below:

Q: My pregnant Singaporean employee started work on 1 February 2019. She was due to deliver in mid-June 2019. During the first 3 months of employment she took 14 days of unpaid sick leave as she did not qualify for paid sick leave at that time. 

In light of her unpaid sick leave period, would she be considered to have worked continuously for 3 months to qualify for paid maternity leave? 

TAFEP's advice:

Employees are eligible for maternity leave if they have worked for a continuous period of 3 months (s76 of the Employment Act, or s9a of the Child Development Co-Savings Act). 

A "continuous" period includes all leave taken by the employee, both paid and unpaid. 

Let's apply this to the scenario to assess whether the employee has met the eligibility criteria for maternity leave. 

She joined the company on 1 February 2019 and is expected to deliver in mid-June. Including the 14 days of unpaid sick leave, she would have worked for at least 3 months from 1 May 2019 as all leave count towards the continuity of her employment. 

Hence, the employer in this scenario will be required to accord the employee with paid maternity leave. 

Employer's responsibility to grant and pay maternity leave 

Employers are required to pay employees at the gross rate of pay for every day of the benefit period, including holidays. Failing to do so will be deemed as an offence under the law. 

For more information on maternity leave and its eligibility criteria, please visit Ministry of Manpower's website

In addition to maternity leave, employees will also be entitled to other parental leave* if they meet the qualifying criteria. These include:

  • Childcare Leave and Extended Childcare Leave
  • Unpaid Infant Care Leave 

*For the full list of parental leave schemes and its eligibility criteria, please visit heybaby.sg

Additional resources

EAS@TAFEP - EAS@TAFEP consultants will provide scenario-based advice to employers on the Employment Act and relevant parts of the Child Development Co-Savings Act, Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, and Retirement and Re-employment Act, which impact employment terms and conditions. 

EAS@TAFEP consultants are not providing legal advice and will not discuss points of law. We will only provide practical guidance on the application of the Employment Act and other related labour laws to the specific scenarios that are raised by employers, and share good employment practices that are adopted by the industry peers and employers in Singapore.

For more information on EAS@TAFEP, please visit TAFEP's website.