Are you currently pregnant or planning to have children? Here’s what you need to know about maternity benefits in Singapore.
Raising a child in Singapore isn’t cheap, and it’s only going to get more expensive due to the city’s rising cost of living. Fortunately, the government offers a variety of childcare subsidies which may not be quite enough to cover all of the costs associated with raising children (but that’s a story for another day).
What benefits and exemptions are available to those of you who are considering expanding your family, and which ones are not?
Maternity Leave in Singapore
Working mothers are entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave to recover after childbirth and spend time with their new baby.
Image from iStock
The vacation time begins four weeks before the due date and must be taken all at once. If you and your employer agree, you can also begin your maternity leave at any time up to 28 days before giving birth. Additionally, you can choose how you want to use your remaining 9 to 16 weeks of leave up to 12 months after the birth of your child (inclusive of date of birth).
If you meet all of the following requirements, you are qualified for maternity leave:
- Your child was born a Singaporean, or in the case of a stillbirth, would have been one at birth;
- Employees: You have been employed by your company continuously for at least three months prior to the birth of your child;
- Self-employed: You lost income because you didn’t work on your business, trade, or profession during the Government Paid Maternity Leave period despite having been actively engaged in it for a continuous period of at least three months prior to the birth of your child.
Cap for Government-paid portion of Maternity Leave*
First and second child order
- First eight weeks paid by employer
- Last eight weeks paid by Government
- Up to $20,000 per child order
Note: The capped amounts are inclusive of CPF contributions
Third and subsequent child order
- Full 16 weeks paid by Government
- Up to $40,000 per child order
Note: The capped amounts are inclusive of CPF contributions
Aside from the maternity leave, you are also entitled to other maternity benefits in Singapore.
Maternity Benefits in Singapore
This supports working women who meet the requirements but are not eligible for the government-paid maternity leave programme because of their employment arrangements (e.g. on short-term employment contracts, or employment contracts had expired before the birth of their child).
You must have worked a minimum of 90 days in the 12 months prior to giving birth. If you worked for different companies or were self-employed for a period of 12 months before giving birth, the sum of your employment periods should equal at least 90 days.
The government-paid part of the government-paid maternity leave is the same as the qualified maternity benefit (equivalent to eight weeks for the first and second child orders, and 16 weeks for the third and subsequent child orders).
Your gross hourly rate of pay, employer CPF contributions, and net trading income from the 12 months before the delivery will all be taken into account when determining how much maternity benefit you will receive. This is calculated by dividing the total gross monthly compensation for the previous 12 months by 365.
The Government-Paid Maternity Benefit must be requested within 15 months of the birth of your child.
Image from iStock
If you meet each requirement listed below, you are eligible to receive the benefits:
- Your child is a citizen of Singapore. If your child is not a Singaporean when they are born, you may be eligible for Government-Paid Maternity Benefit if they become one within a year of their birth.
- You have worked or worked for yourself for a minimum of 90 days in the 12 months prior to the birth of your child.
MediSave Maternity Package
Parents can utilise their MediSave for both delivery costs and pre-birth medical fees like consultations and ultrasounds with the MediSave Maternity Package (MMP).
In accordance with the MMP, you are allowed to withdraw up to $550 per day for the first two days of admission and $400 per day starting on the third day for each day spent in the hospital, plus $900 for pre-delivery medical costs and an additional surgical withdrawal limit ranging from $750 to $2,600 depending on the type of delivery procedure you have.
For some instances of how MediSave may be claimed, please check the table below. The maximum amount of MediSave that may be used is the lesser of the actual bill and the withdrawal limit.
Examples of MediSave Claimable Under the MediSave Maternity Package
No. of Days of Hospitalisation
MediSave Withdrawal Limit under the MediSave Maternity Package (covers delivery and pre-delivery medical expenses)
Example 1: Vaginal delivery (normal)
($550 x 2 days + $400 x 1 day) + $750 for procedure i.e. vaginal delivery) + $900
Total claimable: Up to $3,150
Example 2: Caesarean delivery (normal)
($550 x 2 days + $400 x 2 days) + ($2,150 for procedure, i.e. caesarean delivery) + $900
Total claimable: Up to $4,950
Both public and private hospitals can use MediSave. Parents only need to produce the pre-delivery medical care bills they incurred to the hospital where the baby was delivered in order to claim pre-delivery costs from MediSave. These bills and the delivery costs will be submitted by the hospital for MediSave claims under the MediSave Maternity Package.
Medisave Grants for Newborns
For each Singaporean newborn, the government is setting up a MediSave account to assist parents meet their children’s medical requirements.
The expanded $4,000 MediSave Grant for Newborns is available to all Singaporean citizens who were born on or after January 1, 2015. Those who were born on or after August 26, 2012, but before January 1, 2015, are eligible for a $3,000 stipend instead.
After the birth is registered, eligible babies will automatically receive the MediSave grant. The grant does not need parents to apply.
With the aid of this award, parents may be able to pay for their children’s medical bills, such as MediShield Life premiums, recommended childhood immunisations, hospital stays, and authorised outpatient treatments.
Parents will get a letter notifying them of the grant deposit after it has been made into the child’s MediSave account.
MediShield Life Coverage from Birth
The basic health insurance MediShield Life, which is required by law, assists in covering high hospital costs as well as a few expensive outpatient procedures like dialysis and chemotherapy for cancer. It is basic since it is made for procedures that are covered by insurance in public hospitals.
All newborn Singapore citizens, including those with congenital and neonatal disorders, are immediately and permanently covered by MediShield Life.
Parents will be allowed to use the MediSave Grant for Newborns to pay for their MediShield Life premiums, and MediSave payments may be fully paid through MediSave.
The government will significantly subsidise premiums to keep them affordable (e.g. Premium Subsidies for the lower- to middle- income, Transitional Subsidies for Singapore Citizens to ease the shift to MediShield Life for the first four years). The government will offer further premium support to people who are financially strapped and are still unable to pay their part of MediShield Life premiums after receiving subsidies.
Assisted Conception Procedures in Singapore
MediSave for Assisted Conception Procedures
For the first, second, and third treatment cycles, a couple may take $6,000, $5,000, and $4,000 from MediSave to assist them better afford the cost of treatment for Assisted Conception Procedures (ACP). Following the 1st of October 2013, the following withdrawal restrictions apply to ACP treatment:
- 1st cycle – $6,000
- 2nd cycle – $5,000
- 3rd and subsequent cycles – $4,000
Additionally, there is a $ 15,000-lifetime MediSave withdrawal cap per patient for ACP.
Since MediSave is primarily intended for hospitalisation and the majority of healthcare costs are likely to occur near the end of a person’s life, withdrawal limits are put in place to prevent MediSave funds from being prematurely depleted.
Child Care and Infant Fees Subsidies and Assistance
There are two available subsidies – Basic Subsidy and Additional Subsidy.
The amount of the subsidy for which you qualify is determined by the family’s income and the mother’s (or single parent’s) employment status.
1. Basic Subsidy
You are eligible for the Basic Subsidy if:
- Your child is a Singapore Citizen
- Your child is enrolled in an ECDA-licensed infant care/ child care centre in Singapore
If you are a working mother:
- Basic Subsidy for Infant Care: $600
- Basic Subsidy for Child Care: $300
If you are a non-working mother:
- Basic Subsidy for Infant Care: $150
- Basic Subsidy for Child Care: $150
Note: The Basic Subsidy amounts listed above only apply to full-day programmes. The amount will vary depending on the type of programme.
2. Additional Subsidy
You will be eligible for additional subsidy if:
- You work at least 56 hours a month as a mother.
- Your child is a citizen of Singapore.
- In Singapore, your child is enrolled in a child care facility that has been granted ECDA licencing.
- Your and your spouse’s combined gross monthly income is $12,000 or less (before deducting bonuses, commissions, overtime pay, allowances, and CPF).
Note: If you are applying based on per capita income, the income of any family members you list in your application will also be taken into account.
Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS)
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The Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS), which is run by the Early Childhood Development Agency, assists parents in paying for their children’s kindergarten tuition (ECDA).
From January 2020, if a family’s gross monthly household income is $12,000 or less, KiFAS will be extended to families with Singaporean citizen children enrolled in kindergarten programmes administered by Anchor Operators or the Ministry of Education. A yearly grant is available to eligible low-income families, and it can be used to help defray the costs of enrolling a child in kindergarten.
More information can be found on the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA)’s website.
Families that qualify can apply for KiFAS at the kindergarten.
Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA)
ComCare could be of assistance if:
- you and your partner both put in at least 56 hours a month at work;
- if the combined gross monthly income of your household is $4,500 or less, or if the combined gross monthly income per person in your home is $1,125 or less;
- your youngster ranges in age from 7 to 14;
- your child is enrolled in a student care facility with MSF registration;
- Your child is a citizen or permanent resident of Singapore (at least one immediate family member in the same household must be a Singapore Citizen).
Children with impairments can also receive this assistance in specialised Student Care Centers. Contact SG Enable for additional details.
*If a parent or legal guardian does not work at least 56 hours a month, there must be good cause and documentation to support it. A registered full-time carer for a dependent, job searching, medical leave, jail, etc. are all acceptable explanations.
You may receive:
Your monthly household income determines how much aid you will receive:
- A one-time Start-Up Grant for each child of up to $400.
The initial expenses, such as the deposit, registration fee, uniforms, and insurance, can be covered by the grant.
- Request an application and submit it to the programme at any Student Care Center that has been registered with MSF.
Student Care Centers are located here and are in charge of managing the subsidies.
- You must bring the following items:
- A copy of the birth certificate of your child
- A copy of each parent’s most recent NRIC. Please submit a copy of the guardianship certificate and the guardian’s NRIC if the child is being cared for by a guardian.
- A letter from employers outlining the most recent copies of both parents’ pay stubs or pay stub copies for both parents.
If you have questions about maternity benefits in Singapore and other subsidies to help you with your pregnancy or childcare expenses, do not hesitate to check the government agency websites.