What’s the status of Parental Leave?

Category: BCEA
Date: 29 Jul 2019

Frequently Asked Question

Employers are still wondering what to do about paternity for the new working dad’s and how long to allow their working mom’s to go on leave. The confusion lies in the fact that the (correctly referred to as) new Parental Leave, while promulgated in November 2018, awaits the regulations in terms of the Department of Labour and UIF.

The Answer

Parental leave is in play however the cost of the additional days’ leave was never meant to fall to the Employer’s bank account. The intention is that employees, who are taking parental leave (including adoption), may take the leave from their employer, and then claim their time away from work as unpaid and receive reimbursement from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). The UIF is, to date, unable to process payment for either the 10 days paternal leave or the additional 2 months of maternity leave, at the increased percentage of 66% of loss of earnings.

Employers can be forgiven for being unsure of the changes and what to do for the best of their employees, since the current impact of the financial burden rests fairly and squarely at the feet of the the employee who is already faced with additional financial burdens. When a new baby arrives in the home, sleepless nights prevail not only because of a crying, but over the strain of dealing with the additional expenses in the home. Add to that, an extended period of time of unpaid leave, be it 10 days or a number of months, there is no doubt that new families are bearing the brunt of the cost.

Scheduled female employees, working at companies who are signatories to the Metal and Engineering Industries Sick Pay Fund Agreement, receive a benefit from the Sick Pay Fund equating to 100% of her wages.

A serious situation

With legislation, from the South African Constitution, Collective agreements, Labour relations act and Employment equity act, protecting the health, safety and well-being of new parents (note: not just the females) is it wise to provide a vehicle aimed at sustaining the family and then leaving the proverbial tyres flat, rendering them stranded without financial support? While the amended Labour Law Act is particularly progressive in acknowledging the variety of scenarios under which an employed person may be included in the inception of a new family, the follow-through awaits serious and urgent attention.

Progressive Legislation

The Amended Labour Act has shown a progressive amount of consideration and inclusion of all individuals involved in the birth or adoption of a new baby / babies. Acknowledging the rights of the father is just the start. South African government has taken employment equity to new levels by including all LGBTQIA+ or intersex individuals and included them in the family. Meaning that when an employee is bringing a new family to their home, regardless of how the baby comes to their family, through birth or adoption, there are 2 individuals who may take parental leave. One will take 6 months and the other will take 10 days. The individuals may be male or female or inter-sex and they will chose while role they identify with and as such, which period of time they will be taking in order to look after the new member to the family.

Still unsure, ask a partner at KZNEIA for assistance.