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Changes to maternity leave claims

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The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) has announced two new changes to help employers better manage maternity claims.

The changes will be in effect from Thursday onwards, and will let employers and self-employed women apply to the government earlier to reimburse paid maternity leave, The Straits Times reported. The first change will allow greater flexibility in making claims for the first two children.

Currently, the government reimburses companies for the last eight weeks of the total four months of maternity leave, capped at S$10,000 for every four weeks. While the mother can take the last four weeks leave anytime before the child’s first birthday, companies can only make the claims after all eight weeks are taken. This usually means the waiting time can take up to 10 months if the mother spaces out the leave.

However, the new change will allow claims to be made every month after the initial eight weeks.

The second change affects maternity leave for the third child onwards. At the moment, the government pays for the entire four months of maternity leave, capped at S$10,000 a month. However, the current rules dictate the claims can only be made twice; once after the first eight weeks have passed and again after the entire four months of leave.

The changes will allow the claims to be made every month, beginning form the first month of the baby’s birth.

Halimah Yacob, MCYS Minister of State, said the changes will not only benefit SMEs and self-employed women as they will be able to make “more timely claims”, but also help women gain greater flexibility in taking maternity leave.

Chan Chong Beng, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises said the new changes will ease the cash flow of SMEs. “Even a few hundred dollars is important to them,” he said.

The current measures, which have been in place since 2008, were part of the local government’s effort to boost Singapore’s maternity rates, which fell to 1.2 children last year, below the replacement rate of 2.1.

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