South Africa’s new parental leave laws are here – this is what you need to know

The presidency has announced that sections of South Africa’s new Labour Laws Amendment Act will come into effect from the start of November.

Signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa in November 2018, the Labour Laws Amendment Act introduces a number of new labour regulations – including new rules around paternity, adopting parents and surrogacy leave.

While some of these regulations are already in place, in a proclamation published on Tuesday (29 October) the presidency said that the sections surrounding parental benefits will be in effect from 1 November.

News that new fathers and adopting parents will be entitled to 10 days of paternity leave has previously been covered in-depth in the media, but there are also a number of benefit changes that all employees should be aware of.

You can find the most notable changes outlined below.


Changes 

According to Michael Yeates, a director at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, under the new regulations an employee will be able to apply for the new parental benefits if:

  • They have been registered as the father of the child in terms of the Births and Deaths Registration Act;
  • They are the parent of a child below the age of two in an adoption order;
  • They are the prospective adoptive parent of a child below the age of two (in terms of a court order that placed the child in the care of the prospective adoptive parent, pending the finalisation of the adoption order in respect of that child); or
  • They are the parent of a child who has been born as a result of a surrogate motherhood agreement.

Yeates said that the right to parental benefits is subject to further restrictions that the contributor, who is the parent of a child, should be aware of.

These include:

  • The parental benefit may not be more than the remuneration the contributor would have received if the contributor had not been on parental leave;
  • The maximum period of parental leave is 10 consecutive days;
  • A contributor is not entitled to benefits unless he or she was in employment, whether as a UIF contributor or not, for at least 13 weeks before the date of application for parental benefits.

Application process

Yeates said that an application for parental benefits must be made in the prescribed format at an employment office.

The application must be made within 12 months after:

  • The date of childbirth;
  • The date that a competent court grants the adoption order; or
  • The date a child is placed in the care of a prospective adoptive parent by a competent court, pending finalisation of an order in respect of that child.

“The application will be investigated by a claims officer and the claims officer can request more information if necessary regarding the period during which the applicant was not working in order to care for the child,” he said.

“If the application complies with the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act, the claims officer will approve the application, determine the amount of benefits the applicant is entitled to, authorise the payment of benefits and stipulate how benefits are to be paid.

“In the event that the application does not comply, the claims officer must advise the applicant in writing that the application is defective and the reasons why it is defective,” he said.

Parents must use the prescribed application form and the following support documents to submit for a Parental Benefit claim:

  • Identity Document of the applicant;
  • Birth Certificate of the child with full details of parents; and
  • Details of a valid bank account.

Good news for South Africans

Yeates said that the introduction of parental benefits and the mechanisms for their application is an advancement for South Africa.

“Workers need to be informed of the introduction of these benefits in order to exercise these benefits,” he said.

“Although the payment of parental benefits will be paid by the South African Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), employers ought to also consider the effects that the amendment will have on their leave policies and contracts of employment,” he said.


Read: New case deals with South African employees who do similar work but are paid differently

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South Africa’s new parental leave laws are here – this is what you need to know