Vodacom has announced a new gender-neutral parental leave policy which will offer equal time off to all parents.
The telco said that all its employees, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation, will be offered 16 weeks (four months) of fully paid parental leave.
This means that any employee whose partner is having a baby, adopts a child or becomes a parent through surrogacy will have the flexibility to take up to 16 weeks paid leave at any time during the first 18 months, it said.
“The move is derived from Vodacom’s new leave policy, which is designed to support families by giving every parent the opportunity to have more time with children new to their family.
“Under the new leave policy, employees will also be able to phase their return from parental leave by working the equivalent of a 30 hour week at full pay for a further two months,” the group said.
Matimba Mbungela, chief human resources officer for Vodacom Group said it was it was important for the company to give every parent the opportunity to have more time with their children, without worrying about the impact on their finances or careers.
“The new parental leave policy further underlines our strong commitment to diversity and gender equality and will make a significant difference to thousands of Vodacom employees, particularly in markets where there is little or no legal requirement to give equal support for both parents,” said Mbungela.
In January 2020 president Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Labour Laws Amendment Act (LLAA) into law, introducing a number of changes to parental leave in South Africa.
The LLAA introduces three new leave entitlements for employees: parental leave, adoption leave and commissioning parental leave.
The act provides that these leave entitlements are unpaid, and qualifying employees are eligible to apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) for income replacement benefits during the leave period.
The new leave entitlements are formally housed under sections 25A, 25B and 25C of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (BCEA).
There were also consequential amendments introduced in the Unemployment Insurance Act 63 of 2001 (UIA) to provide for the relevant income replacement benefits associated with the new leave entitlements.
Under the LLAA, the updated leave periods are as follows:
- Parental leave: An employee, who is a parent of a child, is entitled to 10 consecutive days’ parental leave. Parental leave can be taken from the day on which the child is born or on the date on which an adoption order is granted or on such day that the child is placed with the prospective adoptive parents, pending the finalisation of the adoption order;
- Adoption leave: An employee who is an adoptive parent of a child who is below the age of two years is entitled to 10 consecutive weeks of adoption leave. Adoption leave can be taken from the date on which an adoption order is granted or on such day that the child is placed with the prospective adoptive parents, pending the finalisation of the adoption order. In cases where an adoption order is made or a prospective adoption order is pending in respect of two parents, one parent is entitled to take adoption leave and the other parent will be entitled to take parental leave;
- Commissioning parental leave: An employee who is a commissioning parent in a surrogate motherhood agreement is entitled to 10 consecutive weeks of commissioning parental leave. Commissioning parental leave can be taken from the date on which the child is born. In cases where a surrogate motherhood agreement has two commissioning parents, one of the commissioning parents may apply for commissioning parental leave and the other may apply for parental leave.