Paid parental leave and how SA’s labour law progresses
From 1 January 2020 all parents – including fathers of new-born children and mothers of children born through surrogacy – will be entitled to 10 days’ paid parental leave, i.e. up to 66% from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) or their full salaries at the discretion of their employer, when their children are born.
This is a significant step forward because it reflects a labour law that is in line with requirements of the modern workforce.
We know that South African workers, across various industries and sectors, have long struggled to achieve a credible, sustainable work-life balance. Outdated legislation does not take into consideration the realities of modern family life, for example, the role played by fathers in supporting the arrival of a new baby into the family.
But change is never easy and there are direct implications for both the employee and employer.
Employers have been urged to embrace the spirit of the legislation
While employers have been urged to embrace the spirit of the legislation and could face penalties and action from labour courts should they refuse to adhere to the conditions, employees must take note that paid parental leave can be taken once a year and they must apply officially for leave from their place of employment.
The law makes provision for workers to claim payments from the UIF should the leave be unpaid by their employer.
We also know from media reports that unions like Cosatu (Congress of South African Trade Unions) have voiced their support for the law.
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