Employed and working South African dads can now take paternity leave for 10 days before resuming work. They are now entitled to the leave, immediately after the birth of their children. Before November 2018, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act only entitled a paternity leave of three days.
However, this was changed in November 2018 when the Labour Laws Amendment Act was signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Apart from granting fathers 10 days leave, the Labour Amendment Act also included provisions for adoption of a baby under the age of two years for 10 weeks and it applies to only one parent. Also, the act included provisions for surrogacy leave, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and maternity benefits.
Why Is the paternity leave important?
According to Non-governmental organization Sonke Gender Justice in South Africa, paternity leave for fathers creates an opportunity for fathers to bond with their born children. Besides, the organization argues that bonding with adults by a child enhances the chances of the baby’s survival.
Furthermore, research carried out in countries that grant paternity leave has found that initial emotional connection by a father to a child would subsequently lead to long-term caring of the child and that the fathers would take up the responsibility of bringing up the child.
The act also resulted in unemployed insurance fund benefits for workers who lose their jobs. Also, it increased maternity leave payments.
How to claim paternity leave in South Africa
Claiming a paternity leave in South Africa involves writing to the employer by an employee involved. The employee should clearly state the dates he intends to take the leave. Also, it is required that such notice be submitted a month before the expected date.
It is important to note that the employer has no rights whatsoever to deny a parent seeking paternal leave, as long as the employee has followed the process and issued advance notice.
Delay in the implementation of paternity leave in South Africa
Despite the act that guarantees paternity leave being passed by parliament and signed into law by the president Ramaphosa, there has been a delay in its implementation. The Labour Laws Amendment Bill was originally signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa in November 2018. As previously stated by a spokesperson from the department of labor, the Unemployment Insurance Fund was not ready with their systems.
However, the Unemployment Insurance Fund has assured the public that it is working on their systems to upgrade them, develop regulations, and design new forms for processing of applications to be ready for implementing the new system.