Understanding Unpaid Leave in Singapore

Unpaid leave Singapore

Parker adam
7 min readJun 1


Unpaid Leave in Singapore.


In Singapore, sometimes people who have jobs might need to take time off from work without getting paid. This is called unpaid leave, and both the workers and the bosses need to know about it. This article will tell you all about unpaid leave in Singapore, like the different kinds of unpaid leave, who can take it, how long it can be, how to ask for it, and how it can affect the benefits workers get.

What is Unpaid Leave?

Unpaid leave means when someone who has a job needs to take time off from work without getting paid. This can happen for different reasons like personal things to take care of, important family events, being sick, or when there’s an emergency. It’s important for both the boss and the worker to know about unpaid leave so they can follow the rules and keep things fair and happy at work.

Types of Unpaid Leave in Singapore

In Singapore, there are different types of unpaid leave that employees can utilize:

1. No-Pay Leave

No-pay leave means when someone takes time off from work but doesn’t get any money for it. People usually take this kind of leave for personal reasons like going on a long trip, taking a break from work, or studying more. It’s important to tell the boss ahead of time if you want to take no-pay leave, following the rules and ways of the company.

2. Unpaid Medical Leave

Unpaid medical leave is applicable when an employee needs time off work due to illness or injury but has exhausted their sick leave entitlement. It provides an opportunity for employees to recuperate and receive necessary medical treatment without pay. A valid medical certificate is required to support the need for unpaid medical leave.

3. Maternity and Paternity Unpaid Leave

Maternity and paternity unpaid leave is provided to eligible employees to support the transition to parenthood. Mothers are entitled to paid maternity leave, but if they require additional time off, they can opt for unpaid maternity leave. Fathers, on the other hand, can take unpaid paternity leave to bond with their newborn child.

Eligibility for Unpaid Leave

The eligibility criteria for unpaid leave in Singapore may vary depending on the type of leave and the specific circumstances. Generally, employees are eligible for unpaid leave if they meet the following requirements:

1. Employment Period

Employees should have completed a minimum period of service with their employer to be eligible for unpaid leave. The required period may differ based on company policies and employment contracts.

2. Approval from Employers

Employees must seek approval from their employers for unpaid leave. The request should be made in advance, allowing sufficient time for the employer to assess the operational impact and make suitable arrangements.

3. Compliance with Company Policies and Legal Requirements

Employees should comply with their company’s policies and procedures regarding unpaid leave. Additionally, they must adhere to any statutory requirements specified by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in Singapore.

Duration of Unpaid Leave

The duration of unpaid leave can vary based on the employee’s needs, the type of leave, and the company’s policies. Here are some key considerations:

1. No-Pay Leave

The duration of no-pay leave is determined by the employee’s agreement with the employer. It can range from a few days to several months, depending on the circumstances.

2. Unpaid Medical Leave

Unpaid medical leave is granted based on the employee’s medical condition and the recommendations of the attending healthcare professional. The duration can vary depending on the recovery time required.

3. Maternity and Paternity Unpaid Leave

The duration of maternity and paternity unpaid leave is regulated by the Employment Act and the Child Development Co-Savings Act. Mothers can take up to 12 weeks of maternity leave, while fathers can take up to 2 weeks of paternity leave.

Application and Approval Process

To apply for unpaid leave, employees typically need to follow a specific process:

1. Submission of Leave Application

Employees should submit their leave application to their supervisors or the relevant department within their organization. The application should include details such as the type of unpaid leave requested, the intended duration, and the reason for the leave.

2. Approval and Confirmation

Employers will review the leave application and assess its feasibility. They may consider factors such as staffing requirements, operational needs, and the employee’s eligibility for unpaid leave. Once approved, the employer will provide written confirmation to the employee.

3. Recordkeeping

Both employees and employers should maintain accurate records of approved unpaid leave to ensure proper documentation and tracking of leave entitlements.

Rights and Protections

Employees taking unpaid leave in Singapore are entitled to certain rights and protections:

1. Job Security

Employees who take unpaid leave should not face any adverse consequences or discrimination upon their return. Employers are expected to maintain job security and not terminate or penalize employees for exercising their rights to unpaid leave.

2. Maintenance of Employment Benefits

In most cases, employees on unpaid leave continue to be entitled to certain employment benefits, such as medical insurance, retirement contributions, and annual leave accrual. However, it is essential to consult the employment contract and company policies to understand the specific terms and conditions.

Impact on Employment Benefits

While employees on unpaid leave may still be entitled to some employment benefits, it is crucial to consider the potential impact on certain benefits:

1. CPF Contributions

During unpaid leave, employers are not required to contribute to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts of their employees. Employees should take this into account when planning their finances and retirement savings.

2. Annual Leave Accrual

Employees on unpaid leave may not accrue annual leave during the period of absence. It is important to review the employment contract and company policies to understand how annual leave entitlement is affected.

Alternatives to Unpaid Leave

In some cases, employees may explore alternatives to unpaid leave to meet their personal or professional needs:

1. Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting, part-time work, or job-sharing, can give employees more flexibility while maintaining their income. Discussing these options with employers can lead to mutually beneficial arrangements.

2. Paid Leave Options

Employees can consider utilizing other types of paid leave, such as annual leave or childcare leave if they have available entitlements. This allows them to balance their commitments without sacrificing their regular income.

Managing Unpaid Leave

To effectively manage unpaid leave, both employees and employers can take the following steps:

1. Clear Communication

Employees should communicate their intention to take unpaid leave well in advance, providing relevant details and reasons. This allows employers to plan and make suitable arrangements.

2. Documentation

Employees should maintain proper documentation of their unpaid leave, including the dates, reasons, and approval correspondence. Employers should also maintain records to ensure compliance with labor laws and policies.

Unpaid Leave and Employment Contracts

Employment contracts play a crucial role in determining the terms and conditions of unpaid leave. Employers should clearly outline the provisions related to unpaid leave, including eligibility criteria, duration, and impact on employee benefits. Employees should carefully review their contracts to understand their rights and obligations.

Unpaid Leave and Statutory Requirements

Unpaid leave must comply with statutory requirements established by the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore. Employers should be aware of the legal obligations surrounding unpaid leave, including eligibility criteria, duration limits, and documentation requirements.

Unpaid Leave and Medical Certificates

For unpaid medical leave, employees are typically required to provide a valid medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner. The medical certificate should state the employee’s medical condition and the recommended duration of leave. Employers have the right to request additional information or seek a second medical opinion if necessary.

Unpaid Leave and Annual Leave

While on unpaid leave, employees generally do not accrue annual leave. However, it is advisable to review the employment contract and company policies to understand how annual leave entitlement may be affected during and after unpaid leave.


Unpaid leave is an important aspect of the employment landscape in Singapore. Understanding its various types, eligibility criteria, duration, and impact on employee benefits is crucial for employees and employers. By adhering to the guidelines and regulations, employees can balance their personal and professional commitments, while employers can maintain a fair and compliant work environment.


1. Can employers deny unpaid leave requests?

Employers have the right to assess unpaid leave requests based on operational needs. However, they should provide a valid justification if denying a legitimate request.

2. Are there any limits on the duration of unpaid leave?

The duration of unpaid leave may vary depending on the circumstances and the type of leave. Employers may set their limits, but it is important to comply with legal requirements and ensure fairness.

3. Can employees take unpaid leave for personal travel purposes?

Yes, employees can take no-pay leave for personal travel, subject to approval from their employers and compliance with company policies.

4. Do employees continue to receive employment benefits during unpaid leave?

Some employment benefits may be maintained during unpaid leave, such as medical insurance and retirement contributions. However, reviewing the employment contract and company policies for specific details is essential.

5. How does unpaid leave affect an employee’s CPF contributions?

During unpaid leave, employers are not required to contribute to an employee’s CPF account. Employees should plan their finances accordingly.

Learn more: https://quickhr.co/features/leave-management