My wife’s pregnancy was an intense experience, not just for her, but also for me.
While she was almost entirely focused on the health of the tiny person growing inside her, my concerns were centred more on her well-being and to some extent on what would happen once the baby actually arrived.
That is not to say that I was not concerned about our baby boy. But to be honest, I think, as a dad, it is hard to “bond” with a foetus as we don’t have a direct connection as the mums do.
But believe me, once the baby is actually here, things are a whole lot different.
While my better half and I were busy digesting all the information that we had been reading in books and going over everything we had learnt in childbirth classes, my colleagues brought something up that we had not given much thought to until then: paternity leave.
Paternity leave was something that had not even crossed my mind, but given that the people who brought the topic up were all dads, I was all ears right away.
What Is Paternity Leave?
Fathers, non-birthing parents, and secondary guardians can take paternity leave to care for and develop relationships with their newborn or adopted child. Local employment laws frequently include provisions for paternity leave, also known as “paternal leave.” If an employee qualifies, the company must grant them paternity leave.
Employers must continue to employ employees while they are on statutory paternity leave. Employees typically get some type of compensation or stipend while on leave; this is known as “job-protected leave.”
Paternity Leave In Singapore
If you match the criteria listed below, you are eligible for Government-Paid Paternity Leave (GPPL) as a working father for all births:
- Your kid is a resident of Singapore.
- At the time of conception and the child’s birth, you are or were a legally married couple.
- Employees must have worked for their employer continuously for at least three months prior to the birth of their child.
- If you are self-employed, you must have lost income while on paternity leave and have been working for a continuous period of at least three months prior to the birth of your kid.
Furthermore eligible for GPPL for all births are adoptive fathers who satisfy the standards listed below:
- Your kid is a resident of Singapore.
- Employees must have worked for their employer continuously for at least three months prior to the date of their formal intent to adopt.
- If you are self-employed, you must have lost income while on paternity leave and have been working for a continuous period of at least 3 months prior to the date of your formal desire to adopt.
How Many Days is Paternity Leave In Singapore
You get GPPL for two weeks.
The number of working days in a week determines how much GPPL you are entitled to each week.
You will receive 12 days of GPPL if you work six days a week.
Fathers of citizen children born (or with EDD) on or after 1 January 2017 are eligible for 2 weeks of GPPL if they are working parents.
The maximum amount of GPPL every week, including CPF payments, is $2,500.
You may depart in the following manner:
2 weeks GPPL
Default, without any mutual agreement
Take 2 continuous weeks within 16 weeks after the birth of the child.
Flexibly, by mutual agreement
Take 2 continuous weeks any time within 12 months after the birth of the child.
Split the 2 weeks into working days and take them in any combination within 12 months after the birth of the child.
Calculating actual leave days
2 weeks X the number of working days in the week.
Capped at 6 working days per week.
Working fathers who qualify may take up to two weeks of leave within a year of the child’s birth (inclusive of date of birth).
What’s New About Paternity Leave In Singapore?
Depending on their employers, working fathers of Singaporean children born on or after January 1, 2024 may take four weeks of government-paid paternity leave, up from the current two weeks.
In his Budget speech on February 14, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong stated that the additional two weeks will initially be offered on a voluntary basis. The government will compensate employers who are willing to offer extra leave.
Image Source: Made for Families
Paternity Leave Application
- Early notification of your absence plan will allow your employer to confirm your eligibility and create alternate work arrangements.
- Send the declaration form (GPPL) and the required supplementary documentation to your employer. You can declare your eligibility using your employer’s system or using its own declaration form.
- Use your employer’s leave application processes to submit a GPPL application.
- Keep track of your GPPL dates.
- Not later than three months following the last day of your GPPL, submit your claim online through the Government-Paid Leave (GPL) Portal.
- Using the GPL Portal, look up the progress of your application. Once your application has been reviewed, you will receive a notification.
You will be qualified to receive compensation for the income you lost as a self-employed person during the GPPL taken. This is determined using your applicable Notice of Assessment from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).
- Get the declaration form (GPPL1) and associated documentation from your employee and confirm their GPPL eligibility. You can also capture your employee’s declaration using your own form or system. Please keep in mind that the information required should be identical to the declaration form.
For audit purposes, the declaration form or records must be preserved for 5 years from the last departure date
- Submit your claim for reimbursement online via the Government-Paid Leave (GPL) Portal no later than 3 months after the last date of your employee’s GPPL taken.
If you wish to grant GPPL to employees who fulfil all GPPL criteria (and eligibility criteria 4a to 4c above) except eligibility criterion 4, you may grant GPPL as per usual and submit your claim via the GPL portal in the same manner.
- Check your application status on the GPL Portal. A notification will be sent to you and your employee once your application is processed.
Are You Ready for Take-Off?
All of my male colleagues, without exception, recommended that I take the entire paternity leave. Singapore regulations allow to make sure that could I spend as much time as possible as I could with my wife and our baby boy.
But it wasn’t that easy.
The first thing I did, was to read up on paternity regulations in Singapore. And you should too.
The next thing you need to do is check your work contract and your company’s policy on paternity leave. The company I was with, paid up to two weeks of paternity leave. Some companies even grant you longer leaves. So make sure, you know what you are entitled to.
You’re Not Done Yet
The most important step: ask your wife what she wants. There is a very high probability that she would want you to be there at home as long as possible. But don’t take your leave just because you are entitled to it or because your wife wants you to.
Dads-to-be, listen to me: do it for yourself. As far as I am concerned, taking paternity leave was a great choice for me personally.
Bonding with your child as a dad definitely starts right after birth and the more time you spend with your family, the easier it will be to understand not only the baby but also what your wife is going through.
Just do it. Just be there. Don’t miss that first moment as a family.
Split Up the Leave
So one evening, my wife and I sat down to talk about the time after the baby comes. Did we have everything prepared, what did we need to buy in advance and what could we purchase once the baby was here?
We were sitting on our couch and my wife explained to me how her employer is going to handle her maternity leave. That seemed a perfect moment to bring up my leave as well.
One of my colleagues suggested:
“Once the baby comes, take one week off right away. Stay with your wife and the baby at the hospital and get used to the new situation.
Then come back to work and use the second week a bit later, maybe the third or fourth week of your boy’s life. By then, you will be a lot more useful to your wife.”
When I suggested this to my wife, she wasn’t very keen. She liked the thought of me staying with her both weeks right away. But since we didn’t know what to expect–it was our first child after all–we agreed to see how things would go in the first week after delivery.
Luckily my boss and the company agreed to our plan. We decided, once the baby arrived, I would go on leave right away and let them know my plan for the other week, at the end of first week.
The New, the Ugly, and the Boring
Maybe not everybody has such a flexible employer. And maybe some would have compelling reasons to stay home both weeks right away. But, splitting my two-week paternity leave into two separate leaves was perfect for us.
The first week includes the birth and it is definitely a moment you should not miss. It is also the time when everything was so new to both of us that we wanted to do everything together. We fed him, we changed him, we bathed him. It was wonderful to have this time to adjust to our reality as a new family.
But pretty soon, routine kicks in. The wife- especially if she is breastfeeding- begins taking care of the baby round the clock. Although it is extremely tiring, the baby and mum get into a 24-hour rhythm.
During this time, I looked after the household, helped my wife catch some sleep when the baby was crying, and changed the diapers (by the way not that bad at the start, but still not pretty). But that was pretty much it.
Since I could not breastfeed, I was left with the responsibility of bathing or a nappy change, neither of which takes that much time to complete. Soon, I felt pretty useless.
Even if a dad helps mum with everything, most of the time either both the wife and baby are asleep or at least one of them is eating. The baby is not yet responding or playing. All he does is: eat, sleep, cry or stare at the ceiling. This might sound awful, but it is true.
Also, towards the end of the first week, my wife felt a lot more comfortable with the new (although still tiring) situation. This meant that I could go back to work.
There are plenty of newborn routines dads can get involved in.
It’s Not a Vacation
I took my second week of leave when my son was four weeks old. This time I focused on taking as much off my wife’s hands as possible. She was basically there to breastfeed, pump milk, and do whatever else she felt like doing.
By this time the baby is already slightly bigger, makes more noises, and recognises you. As a dad, this makes it a bit easier. Both the baby and you will have a quieter time. However, don’t ever lose sight of the fact that this isn’t time off for you. You’re home and you’re working: taking care of your new family.
Nonetheless, it is definitely worth spending this time with your child, talking, soothing, and bonding with your newborn. Remember, you are not only doing this for your wife, you are doing this for yourself. You are getting to know your new family member from the very start.
Looking after our son when he was just a newborn and still is one of the most rewarding roles I have ever had.
Updates from Matt Doctor
Getting Ready For the Little One’s Arrival? 10 Tips in Decorating Your Baby’s Nursery
Resenting Your Partner After Pregnancy? Here’s Why That’s Happening
Bonding With Your Newborn