South African fathers set to get new paternity leave rights

Parliament has adopted the Labour Laws Amendment Bill which seeks to regulate the right of parental leave for South African fathers.

The bill seeks to provide for parental leave, adoption leave and commissioning parental leave. It also provides for the payment of parental benefits as well as commissioning parental benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

“Fathers play an important role in the upbringing of their children,” it said.

“Having done some research on this issue, the ACDP is of the opinion that such a provision would facilitate early bonding between fathers and their children and that stronger and healthier families would be one of the many potential benefits for society as a whole.”

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act currently provides that an employee may take four months maternity leave in respect of that employee’s child. This maternity leave is paid for by the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

It further provides that an employee who is the father of the child may take three days family responsibility leave when that employee’s child is born. The family responsibility leave is paid for by the employer.

The Labour Laws Amendment Bill is unique in that it also marks the first time that a private members’ bill was adopted by the National Assembly. The bill was proposed by ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley but saw support across the political spectrum.

Under the new amendments, it’s proposed that fathers would get 10 days leave, and adopting parents would be eligible for 10 weeks leave.

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