Employment Rights of Pregnant Women in Singapore
Ministry of Manpower (MOM) statistics in Singapore show that pregnant women are still unfairly dismissed from their jobs. Does Singapore law guard a pregnant woman from unfair job dismissal? Firing an employee on a pregnancy ground is against the law.
The law stipulates that it is wrong to add trouble or stress during pregnancy. Therefore, it protects you during this period. As the law provides, your employer should treat you with fairness. Your job assessment should be based only on job requirements and merits.
Any dismissal must be relevant and based on objective performance ground. There is a maternity protection provision if you have been at your job for at least three months. It is laid out in part IX of the Employment Act. It covers maternity protection, childcare leave, and benefits. As per MOM official website, here are the ways the act covers you as a citizen or a foreigner.
1. Paid Maternity Leave
You have a right as a working mother to sixteen or twelve weeks of paid maternity leave. The duration entitlement depends on whether your child is a Singapore citizen or other criteria. You can freely know your maternity leave entitlement and eligibility by checking the statements that apply to you here.
The paid leave entitlement is also applicable for the self-employed. If you are entitled to sixteen weeks, you should take the first four weeks before delivery. The other twelve weeks are after the delivery. You can arrange with your employer to spread the last eight weeks flexibly within the year.
You should claim all the sixteen weeks of wages from your employer. Your employer can request reimbursement from the government as appropriate. For your first and second birth, the employer can claim wages for the last eight weeks. For the third and subsequent births, he or she can claim wages for the whole sixteen weeks.
Where you are agreeable with your employer to resume work early, seek compensation for giving up the maternity leave. You should receive a total leave salary plus an additional salary for the period given up. Your employer should never call you to work either in the office or from home during the first four weeks after delivery.
While you can arrange for the last eight weeks leave flexibly, you must take the first eight weeks continuously. You may agree to convert the last eight weeks into regular annual leave or work for a few days per week.
Offer yourself protection by having these agreements made in writing with all agreements about anticipated situations. Enter a consensus of how your employer may assess your work performance.
Are you Still Eligible for the Maternity Leave Where Your Child is not a Singapore Citizen?
If your newborn is not a Singapore citizen or you are not yet legally married to the father, your entitlement is twelve weeks leave. The last four weeks are a no-pay leave. Consequently, your employer is bound to pay for the first eight weeks where you have one child at the time of delivery. This is only applicable if the Employment Act covers you.
It is critical to give your employer at least one week notice before going on maternity leave. Giving shorter notice entitles you to half maternity leave payment. You must present a good reason for not providing adequate notice to qualify for a full leave payment.
2. Maternity Leave for Special Situations
・A Foreigner Working in Singapore
You are entitled to twelve weeks of maternity leave if the Employment Act covers you and have worked for at least three months. You may be eligible for sixteen weeks of government-paid maternity leave if your child is a Singapore citizen.
・A Single Mother
You have the right to the sixteen weeks of paid maternity leave as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.
・Part-time, Contract and Temporary Employees
You are entitled to the maternity leave if you meet the eligibility criteria. Your payment should be the gross rate per normal working day required by your contract.
・Birth of Twins or Triplets
The Employment Act treats the delivery of twins or more as a single delivery. You will not receive an extra maternity benefit.
・Premature or Stillbirth
For both situations, you qualify for the full maternity leave if you meet eligibility criteria. A stillbirth can’t be a determinant for your maternity leave eligibility for the next delivery.
・Abortion or Miscarriage
You cannot qualify for a maternity leave benefit in case of a miscarriage or an abortion. You can only take a usual paid sick leave if applicable.
・Falling Sick While on Maternity Leave
You do not qualify for a paid sick leave if you fall ill during maternity leave.
・Employee on Probation
You are qualified for maternity leave if you have served your employer for at least three months and you meet the eligibility criteria.
3. If You’re Not Covered Under The Employment Act, You Could Still Be Covered Under The Child Development Co-Savings Act (CDCA)
The Employment Act does not cover Managers and Executives, Civil Servants, Seafarers and Domestic Workers. But, the Child Development Co-savings Act (CDCA) may protect you. CDCA provides maternity leave for you if:
- You are a Singapore citizen.
- Legally married to the child’s father.
- You have been in employment for at least ninety days before delivery.
If you fulfill the above, you qualify for sixteen weeks of paid maternity leave.
The Singapore Employment Act prohibits your employer to dismiss you because you are expecting delivery. Neither should you be fired after delivery, as the Act stipulates here.
- Your employer cannot dismiss you while on your maternity leave.
- If your employer dismisses you within the six months from the estimated-delivery-date, you should receive maternity benefits for which you were eligible.
- You should receive maternity benefits if you are retrenched within three months from the estimated-delivery-date.
Don’t succumb to unfair job dismissal because of your pregnancy. You have the mandate to hold your employer accountable. File a claim to have your case heard at the labour court at an affordable fee. You can also submit your claim at MOM website. Ensure you submit your written appeal to the Minister of Manpower within the two months of your child’s birth.