Singapore will double paid paternity leave to four weeks for eligible working fathers of citizens born from Jan 1, 2024.
For now, employers may choose to grant the additional two weeks of leave on a voluntary basis, with government reimbursements, says Finance Minister Lawrence Wong in his Budget 2023 speech on Feb 14.
“This is also to give more time for employers to adjust, especially taking into account the existing economic conditions and manpower and operational challenges that many employers face,” says Wong. “We will review this over time and we intend to make this mandatory in due course.”
The message is clear, adds Wong. “We want paternal involvement to be the norm in our society, and we will stand behind all our fathers who want to play a bigger role in raising our children.”
The additional government-paid paternity leave also extends to the self-employed who have been engaged in a business or profession for at least three consecutive months before their child is born.
“Taken together, these enhancements will increase parental leave for a working couple from 22 weeks to up to 26 weeks in their child’s first year,” says Wong, who is also deputy prime minister.
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First introduced in 2013 for married couples, government-paid paternity leave was doubled to two weeks in 2017.
Singapore will also increase unpaid infant care leave for each parent in the child’s first two years, to 12 days a year from the current six days.
The Baby Bonus cash gift will also go up by $3,000 across the board, reaching a total of $11,000 for the first and second child, and $13,000 from the third child onwards.
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The cash sum will also be disbursed over a longer period, up until the child prepares for primary school. For the first and second child, $3,000 will be disbursed at birth, followed by $1,500 at six and 12 months, before moderating to $1,000 at 18 months and $400 every six months from two to six and a half years of age.
For the third and subsequent children, $4,000 will be disbursed at birth, followed by $2,000 at six and 12 months, before moderating to $1,000 at 18 months and $400 every six months from two to six and a half years of age.
The government will also raise contributions to the Child Development Account, which is used to help with preschool and healthcare expenses, from $3,000 to $5,000 for the First Step Grant, and by $1,000 in co-matching caps.
Wong also announced a one-off Baby Support Grant of $3,000 for children born from Oct 1, 2020 to Feb 13 this year, as they will miss out on the higher Baby Bonus sums offered to babies born from today.