Parental Leave – New Rights Given to Parents

Labour laws are constantly changing to bring about more desirable changes. Such is the case with the recent amendments to the Labour Relations and Basic Conditions of Employment Acts, which President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law at the end of November 2018 and which now include new forms of parental leave for employees.

The Labour Laws Amendment Act has introduced three new types of parental leave, giving fathers and adoptive parents the right to take off family time to bond with the new member in the family. These amendments include:

  • Parental Leave of at least 10 consecutive days (after the child’s birth, an adoption is granted or when a child is placed in the care of a prospective adoptive parent, pending an adoption order.)
  • Adoption Leave of at least 10 consecutive weeks (when a child under the age of two is adopted)
  • Commissioning Leave of at least 10 consecutive weeks (when the mother is a commissioning parent in a surrogate motherhood agreement)

According to the new laws, an employee who is a parent that cannot apply for Maternity, Adoption or Commissioning Leave, is entitled to 10 days of Parental Leave after the birth of the child, after the adoption order is granted or when a child is placed in the care of a prospective adoptive parent pending an adoption order.

Provisions are also made for extended parental leave in child adoption situations and to parents using a surrogate. A working parent can apply for ten weeks of Adoption Leave if their baby is under the age of 2 years.

Before these laws were introduced, South African fathers could only qualify for a maximum of 3 days of Family Responsibility Leave, since there was no paternity leave right.

In addition to the new paternity benefits, the Amendment Act sees increased maternity benefits for mothers going through a stillborn birth or affected by third-trimester miscarriages. Maternity leave payments will also increase from 54% to 66% of salaries falling within the approved threshold.

These Labour Amendments will have a major impact on the employers’ payroll, which will need to be updated accordingly. Employers will also need to facilitate the approval of the new parental leave benefits.

South Africa joins more than 79 countries that have made legal provisions for paternity leave, including another 15 African States, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Algeria and Tanzania. A 2014 report from the International Labour Organisation shows that less than 50% of countries analysed globally have a legal paternity leave policy.

The Labour Counsel assists hundreds of companies revising and updating their employment contracts and policies to be legally compliant. If you haven’t updated these in the last few years, you should contact us urgently. Trust the experts, use The Labour Counsel.

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