South Africa’s progressive Constitution in action

Category: BCEA
Date: 24 February 2020

UIF Alignes to BCEA

Some of the amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act which pertain to the taking of leave, came into effective as at the 1st of January in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s confirmation in December of 2019. After a long wait for the Regulation of the UIF Act to be affected by the Department of Labour’s UIF claiming processes, both manual and electronic processing systems have come into effect. The UIF Act was amended in order to align itself with the South African constitution which is one of the most progressive constitutions in the world today, in that it protects the rights of individuals who have previously been disadvantaged, to now receive equal rights in both their private lives and I the workplace, specifically in this instance, same-sex gender marriages and partnerships.

Parental Leave – Not Paternity leave

The introduction of Parental leave (note: not Paternity leave, which refers to males only) is a progressive step towards ensuring and protecting gender equality in the workplace for same-sex couples. The South African government therefore has taken steps to aligning the rights of same-sex couples as well as to protect the rights of people who form part of a family, are taking the responsibility of raising a child or baby on, but who may have had to go through a more unconventional route in order to have their families. This includes Adoption (which was always allowed for in the UIF Act) but now to include both partners, as well as in situations where there is a commissioning parent agreement, in other words, the baby is not physically birthed by either of the parents in the arrangement.

Ensure accuracy on your Payroll & Policies

For terms and conditions of employment as well as payroll purposes, this is what you need to know about carrying out the new legislation: –

  • An employee (male or female) is entitled to 10 consecutive days of Parental Leave
  • 10 Consecutive days = 2 weeks of working weeks of 5 days or if the employee is on a 4-day shift rotation, 2 weeks and 2 days.
  • Family Responsibility leave previously allowed for 3 days of leave when a child is born. This no longer applies and can be removed from contacts and policies as being a valid reason for requesting Family Responsibility (or Compassionate) leave.
  • In same-sex relationships, 1 parent may take maternity or adoption leave while the other may take Parental leave.
  • Adoption leave is 10 consecutive weeks from the time that the Adoption Order is signed by the court, or from the point at which the child is placed under the care of the parents.
  • Annual leave may not be taken simultaneously with Maternity, Adoption, Commissioning Parent or Paternity leave but can be taken prior to the start of, or at the end of the leave period, with mutual consent of both the employee and the employer.
  • Parental, Adoption and Commissioning Parent leave does not have to be paid by the employer however it does have to be allowed to be taken so long as the expected due or start dates are communicated.
  • Parental, Adoption and Commissioning Parent leave is paid from UIF at a rate of 66% of loss of earnings. Proof will be requested by the Department of Labour regarding the child’s birth or other relevant information, as needed.
  • Maternity leave is due to be amended at UIF however to date, UIF is only able to process 4 months of maternity leave, at a rate of between 38 – 58% of loss of earnings. Employers however must still allow their employees to take the rest of the 6 month period, at their cost ie 2 months unpaid by employer and UIF.
  • When Maternity leave comes into effect at UIF, the period will be for 6 months at a rate of 66% of loss of earnings.