Parental Leave for Fathers South AfricaOn 28 November 2017 a Labour Laws Amendment Bill (also referred to as the Parental Leave Bill) was passed in the National Assembly in Parliament. This article will explain the current and future position of paid parental leave for fathers in South Africa.

Parental Leave for Fathers – A Brief Explanation

1 |  Maternity Leave (for Pregnant Mothers)

In terms of  Section 25 of The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, pregnant women are entitled to at least 4 consecutive months’  maternity leave at any time from 4 weeks before the expected date of birth, unless otherwise agreed, or on a date from which a medical practitioner or a midwife certifies that it is necessary. The pregnant mother’s job will be reserved for her and she may claim payment of benefits subject to the terms of the Unemployment Insurance Act.

There is no equivalent leave for fathers at this stage.

2 | Parental Leave (for Fathers)

The current position is that a man does not get leave (unless he takes family responsibility leave for a maximum period of 3 days per year, subject to a range of other requirements) when his child is born.The aim of the bill is, among other things, to change this position: fathers (or other parents, male or female) will be entitled to “parental leave”.

3 |  The Birth Certificate

To prevent an abuse of paid paternity leave for fathers, the father’s name must be on the baby’s birth certificate.

4 | Adoption & Surrogacy

The current law makes no provision for parental leave in situations of adoption or surrogacy. The bill includes interesting provisions for parental adoption and surrogacy leave. One parent will get 10 weeks’ parental adoption leave if the baby is under 2 years old when he/she is adopted.

Click here to read more about this.

5 | The Next Step – Parental Leave for Fathers

The Parental Leave Bill was passed in the National Assembly in Parliament and will now be reviewed by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for adoption. The provisions of the bill will only come into effect after the NCOP has reviewed and adopted the bill, possibly mid-2018.

6| Parental Leave for Fathers – The Benefits

Sufficient parental leave for fathers may have a range of positive consequences:

  1. Fathers will have more time to support the mothers after childbirth. This will allow women to return to the workplace sooner and improve their career opportunities.
  2. Fathers will have more time to bond with their new-borns. This might contribute to a stronger father-child relationship in the future.

Update via BusinessTech: 13 May 2019

“Despite being earmarked for official implementation on 1 January 2019, the Department of Labour has still not introduced the new rules, reports The Sunday Times. Speaking to the paper, a Department of Labour spokesperson said parental leave passed by parliament and signed into law by the president, but the UIF was ‘not ready with their systems ‘. The UIF said that it was working around the clock to be systems-ready before it starts implementing the new system. “The matter is receiving our urgent attention and we hope to start the implementation soon,” it said.”

Click here to read the full BusinessTech article. 

“Family leave, childcare, flexibility — these aren’t frills. They’re basic needs. They shouldn’t be bonuses – they should be the bottom line.” (Barack Obama)

Ilizna Esterhuyse - Parental Leave for FathersIlizna Esterhuyse, divorce attorney at Viljoen Y Attorneys and founder of iedivorce, is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa, specializing in Divorce and Family Law matters. Her fields of expertise and interest include Divorce Law, Family Law and International Divorce Law. Her vision is to demystify Family Law processes, helping good people in plain language and with great technology, to achieve remarkable results.