As of yesterday, parents who have not given birth can benefit from parental leave, in what trade union federation Cosatu describes as an historic victory for workers, parents, children and families across South Africa.
Having been signed into law and promulgated, employers defying the conditions of the legislation would be violating the Unemployment Insurance and Basic Conditions of Employment Acts (as amended in 2017 and 2018).
Parents are now entitled to 10 days’ unpaid parental leave when their children are born. This does not apply to mothers who have given birth as they are entitled to maternity leave.
Cosatu parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks explained that it covered fathers of newborn children and mothers of children born through surrogacy.
Workers are entitled to claim Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) payments to cover a percentage of their salary. Employers also have the option to pay leave benefits as part of their contract benefits with the employee.
The UIF will pay those workers 66% of their salary up to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) earnings cap of R205,433.30 per annum.
Parks added that this threshold was due to be raised this year, as inflation had necessitated an increase of at least R72,000 since it was last rolled over in 2014.
The federation would be using its platform in parliament to call on government to increase this threshold this year, he added. Employees earning under the threshold amount had the full protection of every section of the BCEA.
“Unions must negotiate with bargaining councils and employers to ensure the new law is implemented immediately,” said Cosatu.
An earlier version of this article reported that the leave would be paid leave, suggesting it might be obligatory for employers to pay out leave benefits, which is not the case. However, payments can indeed be claimed from UIF.