Childcare Leave In Singapore: 7 Facts For Working Parents

by | Aug 8, 2023 | Knowledge & Insights

Achieving a healthy work-life balance has always been a challenge for working parents, especially when caring for young children. The Singapore government recognises this struggle and has in place several measures to ease the burden of working parents, one of the main ones being the provision of childcare leave.

This article sheds light on the intricacies of childcare leave in Singapore, including what it is, how it works, and how parents can make the most of it.

1. Why Parents Should Take A Childcare Leave In Singapore

Every working parent knows the challenge of juggling professional responsibilities with their role as a primary caregiver. Taking a childcare leave, even for a short period, can benefit both the parent and the child. It gives parents much-needed time to focus solely on their child’s development and fosters a closer bond between them.

Furthermore, parents can use this period to tend to their children’s health, attend parent-teacher meetings, or even accompany their children on their first day at a daycare centre.

2. Types Of Childcare Leave In Singapore

Childcare leave in Singapore is mandated by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and is categorised into several types, all aimed at supporting working parents. The three primary categories are the following:

  • Paid Childcare Leave: This leave is available to parents of children under seven years old. Eligible working parents are entitled to 6 days of government-paid childcare leave per calendar year.
  • Extended Childcare Leave: This type is for parents of children between 7 and 12 years old. They are provided with 2 days of extended childcare leave per calendar year.
  • Unpaid Infant Care Leave: This category of leave caters specifically to parents of children under 2 years of age. These parents can take up to six days of unpaid annual infant care leave.

Each type of leave serves a specific purpose, enabling parents to effectively juggle their work responsibilities with the crucial role of child development. They have been thoughtfully designed to address the differing needs of parents based on their child’s age.

3. How Many Days Of Childcare Leave Are Parents Allowed In Singapore

The number of days of childcare leave a parent is entitled to in Singapore is determined by several factors.

Age Of The Youngest Child

The age of your youngest child affects the type and duration of the childcare leave you’re eligible for. Parents of a child under seven years old are eligible for 6 days of paid childcare leave if the child is a Singaporean citizen.

However, this entitlement decreases to two days if the child is not a Singapore citizen. Parents of children aged seven to twelve get an extended childcare leave of 2 days if the child is a Singapore citizen.

Child’s Citizenship

Your child’s citizenship plays a crucial role in determining your childcare leave entitlement. Parents of Singapore citizen children enjoy more days of childcare leave than those of non-citizen children.

Duration Of The Parent’s Employment Service

The period of your employment service can also influence your childcare leave entitlement.

For example, if you have been in service for less than a year or have not worked for the same employer for a continuous period of three months, your childcare leave will be prorated.

4. Childcare Leave Entitlement For Parents Working For The Same Employer

Paid childcare leave entitlements are also determined by whether the same company employs both parents. In such cases, the employer can decide which parent should benefit from the leave entitlements.

Nonetheless, parents need to communicate their needs effectively with the employer to ensure a work schedule that maintains a healthy work-life balance.

5. How Can I Apply For Childcare Leave In Singapore?

The process of applying for childcare leave in Singapore involves several steps. As an employee, you should first notify your employer of your intention to take childcare leave. You must give a reasonable notice period, ensuring enough time for your employer to accommodate your absence.

In most cases, your employer will have an internal process for the leave application. You may need to fill in a form or apply through an online system. Ensure you provide all the necessary supporting documents, such as your child’s birth certificate or adoption papers for adoptive parents.

For those who are self-employed, the process to claim your childcare leave benefits is straightforward and can be done online. You simply need to log into the Government-Paid Leave portal to submit your claim.

Keep in mind that the claim must be made within a strict time frame. Specifically, it must be submitted no later than three months following the conclusion of the calendar year in which the leave was taken.

6. What Can’t I Do With A Childcare Leave?

While the childcare leave is intended to provide parents with time to focus on their child’s needs, there are limitations on how it can be used:

  • You cannot use childcare leave in place of medical leave. If a parent is unwell, they should take a medical leave instead.
  • You cannot use a childcare leave for personal matters unrelated to your child’s care.
  • Unused childcare leaves from the current year cannot be carried forward to the following year.
  • If you switch jobs, you cannot transfer the unused childcare leaves from your previous employer to your new one.

7. What If My Employer Denies Me Government-Paid Childcare Leave (GPCL)?

Singapore’s robust legislative structure, including the Employment Act, provides extensive employee rights and protections. Among these rights is the entitlement to Government-Paid Childcare Leave (GPCL), intended to aid working parents in managing their dual responsibilities at work and home.

However, in the unlikely event that an employer denies an eligible employee’s rightful GPCL, you can take the following measures:

Talk To Your Employer

Firstly, it’s essential to communicate with your employer and attempt to resolve the issue internally. There may be a misunderstanding or miscommunication. Discussing the matter directly may lead to a resolution without escalating the situation.

Review Your Employment Contract And Company’s Leave Policy

If discussions with the employer don’t lead to an agreeable outcome, the next step would be to consult your employment contract and the company’s leave policy. Understanding the terms and conditions stipulated in your contract is crucial as they would give you an idea about your childcare leave entitlement. If the contract terms align with your eligibility for GPCL as per the Employment Act, you might consider further action.

Get Advice From Singapore’s Tripartite Alliance For Fair And Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP)

The next step could be to seek advice from Singapore’s Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP). They provide guidance and advice on fair employment practices and can mediate disputes between employers and employees.

Report Your Employer To The Ministry Of Manpower

If these steps don’t resolve the matter, the final recourse is to report the concern to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower. The MOM is the governmental body responsible for enforcing the Employment Act and can investigate any violations.

They have the authority to take legal action against employers who fail to comply with the regulations laid out in the Act.

However, it’s crucial to remember that while the Employment Act provides a broad framework, the specifics of your employment contract and your status (i.e., whether you’re a full-time, part-time, or temporary employee) may affect your exact entitlements.

In all scenarios, it’s wise to seek professional legal advice from a lawyer in Singapore if you need clarification on your childcare leave entitlement.

Remember, GPCL is a benefit accorded by the Singapore government to help working parents balance their professional and family responsibilities. If you’re denied this benefit despite being eligible, it’s essential to know that you have avenues for recourse and you’re encouraged to pursue them.

Conclusion On Childcare Leave In Singapore

Working parents in Singapore may have difficulty fully grasping their employment rights, especially regarding paid childcare leave entitlements. However, understanding such rights is crucial. It allows them to juggle work and parenting responsibilities.

With the different types, like government-paid, infant, or extended childcare leave, parents can ensure their child grows in a loving and supportive environment while pursuing their professional endeavours.

Think you’ve been unfairly withheld from your childcare leaves in Singapore? Schedule a consultation with our family lawyers in Singapore. We can assess your case and provide professional, unbiased advice to help you progress.

Frequently Asked Questions About Childcare Leave In Singapore

Does Singapore Have Parental Leave?

Yes, aside from childcare leave, Singapore also offers parental leave. Mothers are entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, and fathers are entitled to 2 weeks of paid paternity leave.

How Many Children Is The Limit When Taking Childcare Leave In Singapore?

There is no limit to how many children you have when taking a childcare leave. But your days of childcare leave are capped for each parent, not the child. Your total childcare leave entitlement stays the same even if you have multiple children.

How To Check My Childcare Leave Balance In Singapore?

You can check your childcare leave balance through your employer or human resources department. They will provide a record of your leave entitlements and the available balance.

When Do I Submit My Childcare Leave Claim?

The timeframe for submitting your childcare leave claim depends on your employer’s internal processes. You should submit your claim as soon as possible after taking your leave.

Is Childcare Leave Prorated In Singapore?

Yes, childcare leave is prorated in Singapore. The number of days you’re entitled to is dependent on the proportion of the year you have worked.

Can I Take Childcare Leave If I’m Sick?

Childcare leave should not replace medical leave. If you’re unwell, you should take a sick leave instead.

How Can I Reimburse My Childcare Leave?

For employed parents, the employer will generally pay for childcare leave as part of their regular salary. Self-employed parents can claim lost income through the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS).

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.