Budget 2023: Paid paternity leave doubled to 4 weeks, unpaid infant care leave from 6 to 12 days

The additional two weeks will be given on a voluntary basis for a start. PHOTO: PEXELS

SINGAPORE - Working fathers of Singaporean children born on or after Jan 1, 2024, can take four weeks of government-paid paternity leave, up from the current two weeks, depending on their employers. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said on Tuesday in his Budget speech that the extra two weeks will be given on a voluntary basis for a start. Employers who are ready to grant the additional leave will be reimbursed by the Government. 

“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,” said Mr Wong. 

This will be reviewed over time, and the intention is to make the additional two weeks of paternity leave mandatory in due course, he said. 

Self-employed persons who have been engaged in a business or profession for a continuous period of at least three months before their child is born are also eligible for the additional government-paid paternity leave.

Mr Wong said: “With the doubling of paternity leave, I hope the message is clear: 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.” 

Government-paid paternity leave, introduced in 2013 for working fathers, was doubled to two weeks in 2017.

Take-up rates were low when the scheme was introduced a decade ago, said Mr Wong. But over time, the situation has changed.

“Today, more than half of our fathers take paternity leave,” he said, adding that studies both internationally and in Singapore have shown that children with more involved fathers have better physical, cognitive and emotional developmental outcomes.

Parents of young children will also soon be able to take more days of unpaid infant care leave, said Mr Wong. This will increase from the current six days per year for each parent to 12 days per year, in their child’s first two years.

All parents of Singaporean children will be eligible for this additional time off if they have worked with their employer for a continuous period of at least three months, said Mr Wong. 

This will apply from Jan 1, 2024, for working parents with Singaporean children aged below two years old. 

“This will give parents more time to bond with and care for their newborn, or to settle caregiving arrangements,” he said.

“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.” 

In response to queries, a spokesman for the Public Service Division said it will take the lead to increase paid paternity leave by two weeks – from two to four weeks – from Jan 1, 2024. 

The Public Service already provides public officers with additional unpaid infant care leave of up to four weeks in their child’s first two years, she said.

In his speech, Mr Wong said that a key component in supporting parents in managing their work and family commitments is flexible work arrangements, and tripartite guidelines on flexi-work arrangements will be implemented by 2024.

“(This) means that employers will be required to consider staff requests for such flexi-work arrangements fairly and properly.” 

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Since 2021, the National Population and Talent Division, which is under the Strategy Group in the Prime Minister’s Office, has engaged and surveyed close to 20,000 Singaporeans at different life stages to understand their concerns and views on marriage and parenthood. 

Some of the feedback include the cost of raising a child, especially when children are younger, up to six years old, as well as the ability to manage work and family commitments. 

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