Singapore's new standards for unpaid family leave. What they mean for employers

Nonbinding "tripartite" standards released 5 Mar 2018 set out recommended family leave policies for Singapore's employers. The framework for unpaid leave was agreed by the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress, and the Singapore National Employers Federation.

Highlights of the standards include:

  • Employers must inform employees of the types of unpaid leave offered, the process for requesting leave, and the arrangements for requesting more leave if required.
  • Employers must respond in a timely manner to requests for leave. If requests are refused, employers should explain their reasons and, where possible, discuss alternative solutions with employees.
  • Employees should be offered up to two weeks' unpaid leave per year to care for immediate family members during or after periods of hospitalization.
  • Employees should be offered up to four weeks' unpaid leave per year if they have a child younger than two years old that:
    • Was born prematurely
    • Has a congenital condition
    • Is part of a multiple birth
    • Has any other medical condition subject to discussion with the employer.
  • Employers must make clear their expectations for the responsible use of such leave.

Singapore's tripartite standards aim to encourage employers to adopt progressive workplace practices, complementing existing law. Employers that publicly adopt tripartite standards will be named on the website of the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, and may use the alliance's logo on job advertisements and marketing materials.

By Mercer's Alanis Hon, Fiona Webster, and Stephanie Rosseau | 9 Apr 2018