More paternity leave days for dads

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fathers can look forward to more time with their newborns following the passing of the Labour Laws Amendment Bill on Tuesday by the National Assembly, set to give dads more paid paternity leave.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa congratulated the author of the Bill, African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) member of parliament, Cheryllyn Dudley.

“I wish to extend congratulations to Cheryllyn Dudley of the ACDP. Thanks to Dudley, the Labour Laws Amendment Bill enables fathers to take [more] paternity leave.”

The current legislation allows fathers of newborns and adopted children under the age of two years a total of three days paternity leave.

The new bill however, does not expressly state how many days should be added to the current paternity leave. 

Significantly, the bill also includes provisions for 10 weeks parental adoption leave if the baby is under two years which will apply to only one of the adoptive parents. Provisions for surrogacy leave, increased Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and maternity benefits are also included in the legislation.

“Dudley is the first opposition party member to have a private proposal reach this place and if it passes in the National Assembly which it is expected to do as it has majority support, it will be a first for the Parliament of South Africa,” said an elated ACDP in a statement.

The bill acknowledges the important role fathers play in the upbringing of their children. It foresees that such leave would facilitate early bonding between fathers and their children. 

Current Legislation

The current Basic Conditions of Employment Act provides that an employee may take four months maternity leave in respect of that employee’s child. This maternity leave is paid for by the Unemployment Insurance Fund. The family responsibility leave is paid for by the employer. 

Although an employee is entitled to adoption benefits from the UIF, there is no legal obligation on an employer to grant an adoptive parent adoption leave.

Adoption leave as it stands is a mere negotiation between individual employees and employers. This is because the Act does not make provision for the granting of adoption leave.

Neither the Basic Conditions of Employment Act nor the Unemployment Insurance Act makes provision for the taking of leave nor the payment of benefits in a case where an employee has become a parent through a surrogate motherhood agreement referred to in the Children’s Act. -

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