The Child Development Co-Savings Act (CDCA) will be amended to better support parents in caring for and bonding with their children. The key amendments will enhance paternity leave, shared parental leave and adoption leave schemes, as well as extend certain leave benefits to unwed parents.
These amendments have been announced at the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) and the National Population & Talent Division’s (NPTD) Committee of Supply in April this year.
Greater support for fathers
To encourage and support fathers to be active and present in the child-raising process, it will be mandatory for employers to provide the second week of Government-Paid Paternity Leave (GPPL) to fathers from 1 January 2017. The second week of GPPL was previously provided on a voluntary basis. By default, fathers should consume the two-week block of leave within 16 weeks from the birth of the child. If needed, they can also work out an agreement with their employer to take the leave flexibly by days within 12 months from birth of the child.
Couples will have more flexibility in caring for their newborn, and can work out an arrangement that best suits them. From 1 July 2017, shared parental leave (SPL) will be increased from one (1) to four (4) weeks. Mothers can elect to share their maternity leave in blocks of weeks. This one-time election can be made any time before the child turns 12 months old. The election cannot be changed once it is made. SPL must be consumed within 12 months from birth of the child. By default, mothers should consume SPL as a continuous block or in blocks of weeks, or flexibly by days based on agreement with their employer. Adoptive fathers may also enjoy SPL from their spouse’s adoption leave.
The combined enhancements to paternity leave and shared parental leave means that a father can take a maximum of 8 weeks leave in his baby’s first year – comprising 2 weeks of paid paternity leave, 4 weeks of paid shared parental leave (if his wife so elects to share), 6 days of paid childcare leave and 1 week of unpaid infant care leave.
Greater support for adoptive mothers
Adoption leave (AL) will be increased from four (4) to 12 weeks from 1 July 2017. AL must be consumed within 12 months from birth of the child. By default, an adoptive mother should take the 12 weeks continuously as a block, from the date of formal intent to adopt1. If needed, she can also work out an agreement with her employer to take AL as an eight-week continuous block, starting anytime between the (i) date of formal intent to adopt and the (ii) date when the adoption order is granted. The remaining four weeks can be taken flexibly by days.
The first four (4) weeks of AL will be paid for by the employer (for the 1st and 2nd child), and the last eight (8) weeks by the Government. For the 3rd and subsequent child, all 12 weeks of leave will be funded by the Government.
Greater support for children of unwed mothers
Maternity Leave benefits will be extended to unwed mothers from 1 January 2017. An unwed person adopting a child would also be eligible for leave from 1 January 2017. An unwed adoptive mother would be eligible for adoption leave. An unwed man adopting a child would be eligible for paternity leave. This is to support the child’s developmental and caregiving needs, and the unwed parent’s efforts to provide for their child.
About the Child Development Co-Savings Act
Enacted in 2001, the Child Development Co-Savings Act serves to encourage married persons in Singapore to have more children, to facilitate the provision of cash grants and the making of financial provision for the development of children, to enable financial provision to be made for children of parents who have been granted a divorce, a judicial separation or an annulment of marriage, and for matters connected therewith.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Encouraging active fatherhood and supporting parents in their caregiving responsibilities
1. Why does the enhanced Paternity Leave only start on 1 Jan 2017?
There is a need to balance between providing support for parents and the concerns of employers on business costs and productivity. The enhancement was announced earlier to give employers time to adjust.
2. Why do the enhancements to Adoption Leave and enhanced Shared Parental Leave only start on 1 Jul 2017?
The enhancements require changes to legislation, as well as significant system enhancements to ensure all the claims will be reimbursed accurately. These will take time. Employers will also need time to make adjustments to their infrastructure and HR processes. The enhancements were announced earlier to give employers time to adjust.
Enhancing child outcomes through extension of leave benefits to unwed parents
1. Why did MSF decide to extend leave benefits to unwed parents?
The review is part of the Ministry’s efforts to better support vulnerable families. The objective is to do more to support these vulnerable families’ efforts to care for their children.
In conducting the review, we considered three key principles. These benefits are useful in the child’s developmental or caregiving needs. They also support the unwed parent’s efforts to provide for the child. At the same time, the extension of these benefits to unwed parents does not undermine parenthood within marriage which is the prevalent social norm and one which our society values. Hence, some benefits are available only to married parents, to encourage births within marriages.
2. Why are maternity leave benefits extended only to unwed mothers whose children are born on or after 1 Jan 2017?
The extension of maternity leave benefits to unwed mothers requires both the Child Development Co-Savings Act and the Regulations to be amended. It also requires changes to current processes for reimbursement. It will therefore be extended to unwed mothers of children born on or after 1 Jan 2017.