In November last year, the Labour Law Amendment Act, 2015 was passed by Parliament. It brings good news for new parents, including same-sex couples and parents that adopt or surrogate.
An employee who is the parent of a child may take at least 10 consecutive days of parental leave, which commences on the day the child is born or adoption is granted. If an adopted child is below the age of two, an employee is entitled to at least 10 consecutive weeks of adoption leave, which starts on the day the adoption order is granted.
For a surrogate agreement, a commissioning parent is also allowed at least 10 consecutive weeks of leave, which begins on the date of childbirth.
Only one parent may take adoption or commissioning parental leave (both 10 weeks).
The other may take parental leave (10 days). However, the law is clear that which one does which is at the discretion of the parents and should be carefully considered as it is an important and personal decision.
In all three leave types, an employee must notify their employer in writing at least one month in advance of which date they intend to start leave and which date they will return to work. If that’s not possible, for example, in the case of a premature birth, they must inform their employer as soon as they can.
No agreement may reduce this entitlement.
Parents may now claim parental, adoption or commissioning parental benefits from the UIF. However, only one may apply for adoption or commissioning parental benefits; the other must claim parental benefits. For fathers to claim, they must be legally registered as the child’s father as per the Children’s Act, 2005. Application for benefits must be made within 6 months of the date of childbirth or adoption.