By your leave: The confused grad’s guide to annual leave and more

The one thing all fresh grads miss the most after entering work life is, without fail, school holidays. There’s no more time to just space out all day (all you students, do you know how fortunate y’all are??) and suddenly, all you have is just two to three weeks of time off. In this situation:

(I mean, Gandalf was talking about bigger things, but this still applies to all of us non-hobbits…)

In order to make the best decisions on how utilize your annual leave, however, you must first be a very informed☑ individual. So we’re here to help! We’ll leave no stone unturned in order to briefly cover the must-knows for the kinds of leave of absences you have access to.

Disclaimer: This is written based on the Employment Act. The Employment Act does not cover civil servants or stat board employees! You folks are covered under other Acts. This article is for those working full-time.

To defeat the – oh, er, wrong article

1. Annual Leave

We all know and love our annual leave. In return, they’re always calling out our names…

We get it. You want to use your leave and your leave wants to be used. We’ll just dispel some confusion you might have over annual leave, especially if you’re still on your job searches.

  • Unless the HR or your direct superiors/bosses have said so, half-day leaves are in no way a guaranteed thing. It’ll still be counted as an entire day off. So do clarify first!
  • While we all like to quote Part IV of the Employment Act, which regulates work hours and rest days, it doesn’t apply to everyone. So, while 2 weeks of leave minimum and 9-6 workdays are considered to be standard, this is not official: you need to pay careful attention to your contract and negotiate if you find the terms unfair.
    • Currently, it only covers workmen who do not earn more than $4,500 in basic monthly salary as well as non workmen that do not earn more than $2,500. Executives and managers are not covered in Part IV!

There have been proposed revisions to the Employment Act that could take effect in 2019 if the Amendment Bill is passed. The most notable change that would affect you involves scraping the salary cap of the Employment Act. Currently, the Employment Act excludes PMEs earning more than $4,500.

If you’re curious about the other possible changes, this article provides a great summary!

2. Sick Leave

There are actually 2 components to sick leave. For those who draw a blank, we’ve been there before, don’t worry! We’ll explain.

Everyone is entitled to a) paid sick leave and b) paid hospitalisation leave.  The former runs up to 14 days and the latter, 60 days.

Just some stuff to note:

  • Paid sick leave is included within hospitalisation leave. So if you’ve used 3 days of sick leave because of a nasty flu, for example, you’ll only have 57 days left.
  • If you’ve been working for less than 6 months, your sick leave will be pro-rated.
  • As long as you’re certified by a government doctor or company appointed doctor, hospitalisation leave can be spent at home and are not limited to hospital stays.

3. Maternity and Paternity Leave

Brace up, much info incoming

This info would be relevant to some of you. Even if you’re not planning to have children any time soon, you never know when this will come in handy.

If/when you’re a mother-to-be:

  • 16 weeks of Government paid maternity leave is available to you if you have been employed for at least 3 continuous months. 12 weeks will be granted if your child isn’t a Singaporean citizen.
  • Don’t play-play and try to stack your leaves so you’ll get paid sick leave within this timeframe, though. It just doesn’t work that way.
  • You can choose to take your leave in one continuous stretch, which is the default, or take the first 8 in one continuous stretch and the other 8/4 weeks ‘flexibly’ (over 12 months after your child’s birth)

If/when you’re a father-to-be:

  • 2 weeks (capped at $2,500 each week) of Government paid paternity leave is available to you if you have been employed for at least 3 continuous months.
  • You can choose to take your leave in one continuous stretch, which is the default, or take the 2 weeks ‘flexibly’ (over 12 months after your child’s birth).
  • If you find the 2 weeks too little and your wife is amenable, you can make use of up to 4 weeks of her maternity leave. This is called Shared Parental Leave; you can find out more about that here.

Wait, don’t leave just yet! We have just a little more to cover…

4. Childcare leave and adoption leave

Those babies will grow up (and haunt us for being know-it-alls to our own parents….). For the days you really need the time:

  • You have 6 days of Government-paid childcare leave per year, if your child (or youngest) is below 7 years of age.
    • This is not stackable and cannot be carried forward.
    • This leave will be pro-rated if you have worked for less than a year and cannot be claimed if you have worked for less than 3 continuous months.
    • If your youngest is between 7-12 years old, you might be able to extend this leave by 2 days.
  • You also have 6 days of unpaid infant care leave on top of the aforementioned, if you have a child below 2 years of age. Again, 3 months of continuous work applies (and your child must be Singaporean).

If you are a mother-to-be that has decided to adopt a child (salute):

  • You have the option of taking up 12 weeks of paid adoption leave. To be eligible, your child to be must be a Singaporean citizen.
    • Otherwise, you or your spouse must be Singaporean and your child must become one within 6 months of adoption.
    • Your child must also be <12 months when you formally intend to adopt (aka filing of the court application).

Aaaaaand we’re done with the basics! You’re now a fairly informed☑ individual and can go onto the MOM website if you’re curious about the nitty-gritty. Pat yourself on the back, this was one long read. We hope it’s helped you in some way! We take our leave here (heh puns) and wish you all the best for your journeys ahead.

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