Paternity leave regulations were signed into law in the Labour Laws Amendment Act in November 2018 by President Cyril Ramaphosa. He officially amended the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) to include the new regulations.
Now adoptive parents and commissioning parents are also entitled to ten weeks of unpaid adoption/commissioning parental leave or ten days of unpaid parental leave.
Spouses can also choose who gets parental leave and which one will take adoption/commissioning parental leave. This amendment is now in law, but an exact commencement date hasn’t been revealed by Ramaphosa.
Possible commencement date for paternity leave
Commencement has been delayed allowing the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) a chance to create the necessary forms. The UIF also needs to outline the regulations and processes that will allow spouses to claim leave benefits.
James Horn of Cowan-Harper-Madikizela Attorneys shared:
“The draft UIF Regulations were, in turn, published for comment on 2 September 2019 with the commentary period set to expire on 15 October 2019.”James Horn, Cowan-Harper-Madikizela Attorneys
According to the Department of Labour, soon thereafter the president will sign the new provisions. The commencement date is estimated for 4 November 2019.
Employers are urged to prepare accordingly to become compliant with the new legislation. Some of the things that they need to consider were outlined by Business Tech.
Old rules versus new amendment
At its current state, the BCEA offers four months of maternity leave, paid for by the UIF. Fathers are allowed three days of family responsibility leave when a child is born, this is paid for by the employer.
The new bill was said to allow fathers to take ten days paid leave. Fathers who have adopted children under the age of two will receive ten weeks paid leave if they are going to be the primary caregiver.
The bill acommodates fathers who are either biological, adopted or have fostered children. The paternity leave amendment also benefits maternity leave.
The law advises companies to pay 66% of salaries for fathers and mothers who are on leave if their wages fall within the required threshold. Maternity leave can also be taken to cope with the loss of a baby in the third trimester or even if the child is stillborn.
How to apply for paternity leave
Fathers are required to notify the employer in writing, unless they are unable to do so, of the date on which they plan to start parental leave. The parent also needs to state when they will return to work after the leave.
The notification must be given at least one month before their child is expected to be born. In the case of adoption, the date or the adoption order date must be stated and leave applied for a month before.
The commencement of paternity leave will position South Africa as one of the most progressive countries in the world. Globally, fathers get no leave, a few weeks of unpaid leave, however, in South Korea you can get up to a year of paternity leave.