Paternity leave and how it works

As of the 1st of January 2020, parents have been able to claim Paternity Leave, similar to maternity leave.

It is, however, found that Paternity Leave is either misunderstood and or not implemented correctly and often is overviewed in an instance where a parent takes leave for such a special occasion.

What is Paternity Leave, and how does it work?

Through the amendment of the Unemployment Insurance Act 63 of 2001 (the UI Act) it brought into effect payment for fathers on paternal leave.

A parent is entitled to paternal benefits if the contributor:

  • Has been registered as the father of the child;
  • Is the parent or prospective parent of an adoptive child below the age of 2; or
  • Is the parent of a child born due to a surrogate motherhood agreement?

Such a parent will only be entitled to this benefit if he or she has been employed for at least 13 weeks before the date he/she applies for the benefit.

The UI Act provides that paternal, adoption and commission parental benefits must be paid at 66% of a parent’s earnings at the date the parent applies. This is subject to the maximum income threshold as determined occasionally.

How to apply

An application must be made in the prescribed form and within 12 months after:

  • The date of birth of the child;
  • The date that a competent court grants the adoption; or
  • The date a child is placed in the care of a prospective adoptive parent by a competent court, pending the finalisation of an order in respect of that child.

What are the respective benefits in terms of the amended Basic Conditions of Employment Act:

  • Paternal Leave – Ten (10) consecutive days of unpaid paternal leave;
  • Adoptive Parents and Commissioning Parents – Ten (10) weeks of unpaid adoption leave/commission parental leave or Ten (10) days of normal unpaid paternal leave.

In an instance where a child is adopted (under the age of two) and or commissioned where there are two parents, it is up to the parents to decide who then takes the Ten (10) weeks of adoption and or commission parental leave, with the other parent entitled to Ten (10) days normal parental leave.

What about existing Family Responsibility Leave:

  • Family responsibility leave as set out in section 27 of the BCEA, will remain in respect of a sick child or the event of the death of certain family member/s.
  • Family responsibility leave will not be decreased due to the birth of a child.
  • In certain circumstances, an employee may be entitled to both the normal family responsibility leave and paternal leave (i.e. the birth of a sick baby).

Employees may also apply for paid annual leave however, the granting of such leave is up to the reasonable discretion of the employer and may be denied where necessary.

Employers are required in such instances to grant and accept any such request for leave when valid and cannot unfairly discriminate against any parent claiming Paternity Leave.

Please feel free to contact our offices at 0861 737 263 should you require any assistance or require any further information in respect of Paternal Leave.