News Post

Yes! South African dads are getting paid paternity leave!

Dec 07 , 2017

Yesterday a bill was passed in Parliament that will allow fathers to spend 10 working days at home with their new families. Here’s what you need to know.

On Tuesday 28 November, Parliament gave the thumbs up to a bill that will give fathers in South Africa the right to 10 days’ paid paternity leave.

The Labour Laws Amendment Bill was passed in the National Assembly in Parliament and will now be reviewed by the National Council of Provinces.

The bill also includes provisions for 10 weeks’ parental adoption leave if the baby is under 2 years (applies to one parent only) and surrogacy leave, and increased UIF and maternity benefits.

It places a bigger burden on the UIF chest, but will ultimately lead to healthier families.

Kenneth Meshoe, ACDP party leader, said they welcomed and encouraged initiatives that facilitate the involvement of fathers in their children’s lives, especially “in a country where fathers have historically been separated from their families and survival necessitated an acceptance of not being able to bond and be hands-on in their day-to-day upbringing.”

Matthew Parks, parliamentary co-ordinator for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), is quoted by Business Dayas saying: “This bill will see billions of rand released from the UIF into the pockets of workers, and thus help them take care of their families and spur local economies. It will also help fathers play greater roles in taking care of their newborn children.”

Wessel van den Berg, from Sonke Gender Justice, was quoted in a Sonke tweet:

VERY important to note with regards to the landmark Labour Laws Amendment Bill passed yesterday in the National Assembly: it is a PARENTAL leave bill, not a paternity leave bill. https://t.co/Q1qKZuqyJH @HuffPostSA @TimesLiveNews@mailandguardian @dailymaverick pic.twitter.com/dIClytqmqb

— Sonke (@SonkeTogether) November 29, 2017

 

What does the law currently say about paternity leave in SA?

At the moment, dads who want to stay with their baby and its mother still have to take family responsibility leave, which is limited to 3 days per annual cycle, or put in annual leave. They’re only entitled to family responsibility leave once they’ve been employed for 4 months and for at least four days a week. The current law also makes no provision for paternity leave for adoption or surrogacy.

A mother is entitled to unpaid maternity leave of 4 months, while her position is reserved for her. However she may claim from UIF for 17 weeks, at 38% to 58% of her salary (the salary ceiling is R12 478), tax-free. Some employers do pay their employees in part or full.

 

How we stack up against the rest of the world:

This new bill will bring SA more in line with other countries, many of which offer 1 to 4 weeks’ paternity leave. Some give parental leave which may be taken by one parent or split between both parents. And some offer incredible benefits for dads. Here’s a snapshot:

In Canada, dads have several options. They may take 5 weeks of maternity leave at 70% pay, or 3 weeks at 75% pay (up to a certain maximum), paid by social security. Alternatively either parent may take 32 weeks: 7 [...]