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On Tuesday 28 November, Parliament gave the thumbs up to a bill that will give fathers in South Africa the right to 10 days’ paid paternity leave.

The Labour Laws Amendment Bill was passed in the National Assembly in Parliament and will now be reviewed by the National Council of Provinces.

The bill also includes provisions for 10 weeks’ parental adoption leave if the baby is under 2 years (applies to one parent only), surrogacy leave and increased UIF and maternity benefits. 

It places a bigger burden on the UIF chest, but will ultimately lead to healthier families. 

Kenneth Meshoe, ACDP party leader, said they welcomed and encouraged initiatives that facilitate the involvement of fathers in their children's lives, especially “in a country where fathers have historically been separated from their families and survival necessitated an acceptance of not being able to bond and be hands-on in their day-to-day upbringing."

Matthew Parks, parliamentary co-ordinator for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), is quoted by Business Day as saying: "This bill will see billions of rand released from the UIF into the pockets of workers, and thus help them take care of their families and spur local economies. It will also help fathers play greater roles in taking care of their newborn children."

What does the law currently say about paternity leave in SA?

At the moment, dads who want to stay with their baby and its mother still have to take family responsibility leave, which is limited to 3 days per annual cycle, or put in annual leave. They’re only entitled to family responsibility leave once they’ve been employed for 4 months and for at least four days a week. The current law also makes no provision for paternity leave for adoption or surrogacy.

A mother is entitled to unpaid maternity leave of 4 months, while her position is reserved for her. However she may claim from UIF for 17 weeks, at 38% to 58% of her salary (the salary ceiling is R12 478), tax-free. Some employers do pay their employees in part or full. 

Read more about the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) Section 27

From News24