SALRC investigates possibility of maternity and parental benefits for the informal sector

In July of 2021, the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) released a media statement regarding Paper 153, Project 143 that aims to investigate the potential of government funding, via the UIF, in the form of maternity and parental benefits, for the self-employed informal economy workers in South Africa. Due to the nature of the way UIF is paid / collected, any self-employed worker is not required to contribute to UIF and as such are not able to submit any claim to UIF for a temporary or permanent loss of earnings. This 2nd discussion paper on the topic, resulting from the SALRC’s investigations focuses on identifying the gap in the current system of maternity and parental benefit mechanisms and how the gap could potentially be closed, and by whom. The paper contains questions for public comment, on or before 29 October 2021.

Parental leave

Paternity Leave Effective 1st Jan 2020

Working fathers will now have more time to spend with their newborns as the law allowing paid paternity leave kicked in from yesterday, aiming at building better family relations in South Africa.

Fathers will now be entitled to 10 consecutive days of parental leave, which also applies when an adoption order is granted. The adopted child must, however, be under two years old.

One parent will be given adoption leave of two months, the other 10 days.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund’s (UIF) will start processing claims for the new Parental Benefits from 1 November 2019, to contributing and qualifying UIF beneficiaries.

Why the hold up with Parental Leave?

Amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, in November 2018 left both male and female employers excited at the prospect of additional leave for both new moms and dads. For the first time in South Africa, working dads are able to take leave when there is a new baby joining the family. In the past, new dads were restricted to using just the 3 days of Family Responsibility leave when there was a new baby in the family. Once used, there is no further opportunity, until a new leave cycle, for the working father to take leave other than unpaid, if and when the little one is ill or when baby’s mom is in need of assistance with looking after the baby, in the early months. During the first few months, many things can happen with baby which might require working dad’s to take some time off work to help out. So it was with great anticipation that the South African working force awaited the implementation of the new legislation.

Paternity Leave, Surrogacy and Adoption leave

Paternity Leave, Surrogacy and Adoption Leave Explained

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), section 27 thereof, provides for three days’ family responsibility leave for employees when their child is born. Should they require more time they have the option of taking annual leave, in addition to their three days’ family responsibility leave entitlement (per leave cycle). The family responsibility leave for when a child is born, however, is only applicable to employees who have been employed for at least 4 months and who work at least 4 days a week for the same employer. The BCEA currently does not make any provision for paternity leave as such, neither does it make provision for leave in cases of adoption or surrogacy.