Fathers with a child born on or after May 1 this year will be entitled to one week of government-paid paternity leave, to be taken within 16 weeks from the birth of their child.
In addition, mothers can share with fathers one week of their government-paid maternity leave.
The widely-expected move was announced on Monday as part of its enhanced Marriage and Parenthood package. Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the aim was to send a signal to fathers to play a bigger role in bringing up their children.
Several other measures were also announced:
- Four weeks of adoption leave, for mothers who have adopted a Singaporean infant below 12 months old, will be made mandatory.
- Parents of children aged between seven and 12 years old will be entitled to two days of childcare leave per parent, per year. Currently, only parents with kids aged below seven years old have paid childcare leave of 6 days per parent per year.
- Maternity protection will now be extended for expecting mothers for the whole duration of their pregnancy. That is, if an employer dismisses an expectant mother without sufficient cause at any point in her pregnancy, it must now pay her maternity benefits.
- Expectant mothers who are contract or freelance workers - and are therefore not eligible for paid maternity leave - can now claim a cash benefit substitute as long as they have worked for at least 90 days in the preceding one year.
All the measures kick in on May 1 this year, but the Government is encouraging employers to start offering all the new leave schemes to their workers on a voluntary basis from January 2013.