EMPLOYER ACTION CODE: ACT or MONITOR
The National Assembly (lower house of parliament) has approved legislation that would create entirely new leave entitlements for new fathers, adoptive parents, parents as a result of surrogacy, and women who suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth. Currently, employees with at least four months of service are entitled to three days of employer-paid Family Responsibility Leave (FRL) per year for the birth of a child.
The new leave entitlements include:
- 10 days of paternity leave, with pay replacement benefits provided by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) at the same rate as the maternity allowance (66% of covered earnings), for the birth, adoption or assumption of parental rights of a surrogate child
- 10 weeks of adoption leave (for one parent), payable on the same basis as maternity leave, provided the adopted child is less than two years old
- 10 weeks of leave (for one parent) for the assumption of primary care for a surrogate child
- Grant of the full maternity leave (four months) in the event of miscarriage in the third trimester or stillbirth
It should be noted that adoption and surrogacy leave benefits as well as the related paternity leave benefits would be gender neutral, available to both parents of the same or different genders. The three days of paternity benefits under the FRL would be abolished.
The legislation is somewhat unusual in that it is a private members’ bill rather than legislation proposed by the ruling government. However, the bill has drawn support across party affiliation and appears to have sufficient support for enactment.
The legislation is currently before the upper house, the National Council of Provinces. If passed, it is expected to take effect in early 2018. As the new entitlements would draw on the financial resources of the UIF, an increase in the UIF contribution rate may be required.