Two weeks paternity leave from Jan 1; unwed mums to get 16-week maternity leave

From next year, unmarried mothers will have 16 weeks of paid maternity leave and fathers will have two weeks of paid paternity leave.
From next year, unmarried mothers will have 16 weeks of paid maternity leave and fathers will have two weeks of paid paternity leave.PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

Fathers of newborns will have paternity leave doubled to two weeks from Jan 1 next year.

All women will also be entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave - whether they are married or not.

Parliament yesterday passed changes to the Child Development Co-Savings Act that Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said "further support parents in caring for and bonding with their children".

Mothers with adopted children will also get more paid leave from July next year - 12 weeks of adoption leave, up from four now.

Mothers will have the option of sharing up to four weeks of maternity leave with their husbands from next July, from just one week now.

"The combined enhancements to paternity leave and shared parental leave mean a father can take a maximum of eight weeks' leave in his baby's first year - two weeks of paid paternity leave, four weeks of paid shared parental leave if his wife so elects to share, six days of paid childcare leave and one week of unpaid infant care leave," Mr Tan said.

These "support fathers in experiencing the joys and challenges of parenthood with their wives".

He urged parents to take advantage of the leave: "Mothers usually are there but fathers need to be there as well. This is something we can encourage and support, but ultimately the individual parents must make those choices."

All nine MPs who spoke welcomed the changes, but asked if more could be done for unwed mums. Still, Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) called the extension of maternity leave "a baby step in the right direction".

Firms welcomed the pro-family steps, but some felt they could be a stretch on their manpower.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'Two weeks' paternity leave from Jan 1'. Print Edition | Subscribe