Parliament looks at proposal to give South Africans time off work to look after sick parents

Parliament’s portfolio committee on Employment and Labour recently discussed the possible introduction of ‘elder care leave’ under South Africa’s Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).

The discussion took place after a private citizen – Hendri Terblanche – presented a petition to include elder care under section 27 of the BCEA.

Terblanche petitioned parliament in July 2018 to amend the basic conditions of employment act to include “parent‚ adoptive or grandparent” in the section relating to time off work.

He proposed in a letter to the national council of provinces that employees should get three days paid leave, or six weeks unpaid leave, when a parent or adoptive parent was ill.

Terblanche noted that the section currently allows employees to take care of parents and grandparents when they died, but made no mention of taking care of them when they were sick.

He argued that this amendment would also be covered by the Bill of Rights and the Constitutional right to dignity.

Section 27 of the BCEA currently provides for an employee to take ‘family responsibility leave’. The current provisions cover instances where:

  • The employee’s child is born;
  • The employee’s child or adopted child is sick;
  • The death of the employee’s spouse or life partner; the death of the employee’s parent, adopted parent, grandchild, grandparent, or brother or sister.

While the petition was welcomed by a number of members of the committee, concerns were raised about how the BCEA would define a ‘parent’.

MPs said that they were also concerned about a possible loss of productivity and how the days off would be funded.

It was not clear if the portfolio committee plans to re-look at the possibility of elder care at a later date.

Read: 3 things every employee needs to know about South Africa’s new parental leave laws

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Parliament looks at proposal to give South Africans time off work to look after sick parents