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View from the region: Maternity leave Southeast Asia lagging behind?

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View from the region: Maternity leave Southeast Asia lagging behind?

​South East Asia represents one of the most dynamic economic regions in the world, its continuous high growth rate is reflective in the war for talent as the region thrives to be the industrial centre of Asia. 

Today, many companies in the region both local and international are ramping up their efforts to show support for working parents – with increased parental leave and flexible working arrangements in an attempt to attract and retain talent. Especially, female workers who have drastically increased their participation in the workforce and demand a more sustainable working environment.

However. The reality is that South East Asia (SEA) lags behind the global average in terms of providing employee benefits and maternity leave coverage, although the situation has been improving with countries such as, Philippines recently introducing a new law increasing paid maternity leave.

As the importance of increasing greater female participation in workforce at all levels becomes more apparent to many countries in the region, our team at half the sky takes a look at maternity & paternity leave coverage around the region:


  • Singapore Maternity Leave requirements:

  • You are eligible for 16 weeks of paid maternity leave if you meet the following requirements:

  • Your child is a Singapore citizen.

  • For employees: you have served your employer for a continuous period of at least 3 months immediately before the birth of your child.

Paternity Leave requirements:

  • Your child is a Singapore citizen.

  • You are or had been lawfully married to the child’s mother between conception and birth.

  • For employees: you have served your employer for a continuous period of at least 3 months before the birth of your child.


The 1955 Employment Act gives mothers 60 days (8 weeks) of maternity leave as long as the employee has worked in the company for 90 days prior to taking leave. The employer needs to pay the employee in full during leave. There are certain concessions for civil servants. Malaysia does not provide maternity leave for the sixth child and following children. Because of the short leave provided, mothers often work up to the due date in order to spend time with their child during leave.

Paternity Leave requirements:

  • Unfortunately, there is no statutory mandated paternity leave in Malaysia

  • Although some companies provide one to three days of paternity leave. And on the more generous end of the spectrum, some multinationals allow male employees up to 14 days to a month.


  • Southeast Asia’s largest economy and populated country has Three months (or 12 weeks) of paid leave are given to mothers. At least 1.5 months of this leave must be taken after the birth of the child.

Paternity Leave requirements:

  • Indonesia regulated in 2017 that male civil servants will be entitled to one-month maternity leave. The first such legislation in Indonesia


  • Recent legislation enacted by president Duterte has increased paid maternity leave in Philippines to 105 days from the current 60, with an option to extend for 30 days without pay. Under the law, employees who are solo parents should also be granted an additional 15 days of paid maternity leave.

Paternity Leave requirements:

  • The measure increases the number of paternity leave to 14 days from the existing 7 days


  • An employee is entitled to 90 days (or 12 weeks) of maternity leave.

  • The employer must pay a maximum of 45 days full pay for the employee.

  • The remaining 45 days are paid from the Social Welfare Fund. In order to avail payment from the Social Welfare Fund, the employer is expected to make contributions to the Fund for at least 7 months before pregnancy.

Paternity Leave requirements:

  • Male civil servants will be entitled to 15 days maternity leave.


  • The fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia has the highest amount of paid maternity leave with 182 days.

Paternity Leave requirements:

  • Fathers are eligible to receive 5 to 14 days of paid paternity leave, depending on whether the child is born naturally or by C-section and whether it is a single or multiple birth.

Many of the countries in Southeast Asia will increasingly rely on female workers entering the workforce to maintain and expand economic growth and also plug a significant skills gap. The ability to provide sustainable employee benefits. such as maternity leave will be essential in achieving the objectives of governments and businesses alike going forward.

Let us know your thoughts comment below:

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