Congratulations, expectant mom! You’re on a journey of a lifetime. It matters not whether it’s your first or nth child. The thing is, you’re off to one of a woman’s greatest adventures, beginning with your maternity leave in Singapore.
In this time and age of two-income families, and with the pandemic forcing us to cling to our precious jobs even more, maternity leaves are becoming more valuable than ever.
Maternity Leave in Singapore Eligibility
You may avail of maternity leave in Singapore if you are:
Legally married to the child’s father
The child was born on or after 1 January 2017
You have been connected with the company, or have been self-employed for at least three straight months before the child was born1.
You may opt for 16 weeks of Government Paid Maternity Leave or 12 weeks of maternity leave in Singapore, depending on whether the child is a Singapore citizen or not, and other factors.
Maternity Leave in Singapore: Company Guidelines
Moms who have been connected with the company for at least three months may not be retrenched or dismissed without cause2. But a medical practitioner must first vouch for the pregnancy.
To avail of maternity leave benefits in Singapore, an employee must not be connected with another company while away from work.
Here’s how you can prepare for a hassle-free maternity leave in Singapore:
Know your benefits. Success strategist Carlota Zimmerman suggests brushing up on your employee handbook or website about maternity benefits1,3. Jot down your questions and meet with HR or management for the answers.
Talk to your employer about how you plan to take your maternity leave in Singapore – whether as one block or spread out for 12 months. Discuss about taking the leave during holidays and rest days.
Draw up a list of your responsibilities, classifying them into those others can and cannot do. Identify subordinates, peers and superiors who can assume the tasks. Think about hiring someone to take over during your maternity leave in Singapore, if needed.
Joan Williams, founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, observes that a temporary employee can bring something new to the table4.
Let your boss be the first to know
You may be dying to share the good news on social media and your colleagues, but give your boss the courtesy and privilege of being the first to know. Show him or her you care for what will happen to the company while you’re away. Plan details of your maternity leave in Singapore together. Anticipate issues (e.g. work and document turn-overs), and assure him or her of your desire to go back to work.
Reach out to peers
Let them see your maternity leave in Singapore as a chance to shine and assume tasks that would have taken months or years to get. This is one way of getting their cooperation. Take note of concerns and be open to shifting gears if someone else is interested or shows aptitude for the task.
Meet with clients and introduce those who will take over work during your maternity leave in Singapore. Draw up a timeline for handing over responsibilities. You might have to work in tandem with your temporary replacement at first, so you can iron out kinks along the way. Then, you can gradually fade away from the scene.
Keep in touch regularly
You have all the reasons to sign off. But it’s practical to be updated with office matters through e-mail, group chats and short calls every week. You and your team may have questions. This will make it easier for everyone to go back to the accustomed way of doing things once you return from maternity leave in Singapore.
Check out child care options
Ask a trusted relative to lend a hand before and after you give birth. Look for a good nanny. Check out child care centres5. Some have flexible set-ups for various work arrangements. Others allow parents to help design programmes that boost the child’s total development.
Enlist your partner/spouse’s help
Working dads, including the self-employed, can avail of two weeks paid paternity leave from the government6. Sharing parenting duties is a boon for both partners. You get to share time, energy and resources to help your newborn and enhance your relationship with your partner.
Remove personal things from your table. Another person may need your work desk while you are away on maternity leave in Singapore.
Create an "out of office" responder for your work e-mail and update your voicemail.
Paid maternity leave in Singapore is not only a right - it is an opportunity to grow as a person and as parents. Take it. Enjoy it with a baby shower or man yue. You’ll get back to work a lot better and wiser.
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Dr. Raymond Choy Wai Mun
MBChB (UK), Aviation Medicine (Singapore)