New Parental Leave Laws & Benefits in South Africa

South Africa’s new parental leave laws came into effect on 1 January 2020 and have been welcomed with open arms. The new legislation means that all parents, including fathers, adopting parents and surrogates are entitled to 10 days unpaid  leave when their children are born. 

While the new legislation has been widely celebrated, there is still a fair amount of confusion about what it means for those affected. Below we’ll explain all you need to know. 

To start, the Labour Laws Amendment Act added three new leave types to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA): parental leave (for fathers); adoption leave; and commissioning parental leave. 

While the UIF benefit for parental leave is in effect, the UIF benefits for adoption leave and commissioning parental leave will come into effect on 1 April 2020. Until then, the employer must pay for the leave or treat it as unpaid leave. 

So, how does it all work? 

Here is what you need to know about the different categories of parental leave:

Parental Leave 

An employee who is a parent of a child will be entitled to 10 consecutive days’ parental leave, irrespective of the gender of the parent. The 10 consecutive days parental leave are calendar days, not working days. 

The current laws relating to four months maternity leave remain unchanged. 

Adoption Leave 

A single adoptive parent is entitled to 10 consecutive weeks’ leave. If there are two adoptive parents, only one is entitled to 10 consecutive weeks’ leave. The other adoptive parent is entitled to 10 consecutive days’ normal parental leave mentioned above.

Commissioning Parental Leave 

The third category of leave relates to surrogate parenthood and is known as commissioning parental leave. The commissioning parent who will primarily be responsible for looking after the child is entitled to 10 consecutive weeks’ leave. 

If there are two commissioning parents, one parent can take commissioning parental leave,  and the other can take normal parental leave. 

What Benefits are Employees Entitled to?

All three of the categories of leave above are unpaid. However, employees may claim benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund and are entitled to 66% of their regular earnings subject to the maximum income threshold as per the Unemployment Insurance Act. In order to qualify an employee has to have been employed for at least 13 weeks.

If you’d like to know more about the new parental leave laws in South Africa, and how they affect you, please contact us.