In December 2019 President Ramaphosa confirmed the effective date for Parental Leave to be the 1st of January 2020. This means employees may apply for Parental Leave and claim UIF.
What does this mean practically for employers and employees?
Parents that do not qualify for maternity leave or adoptive leave, will now qualify for Parental Leave.
Parental Leave is 10 consecutive days of unpaid leave starting from the date of birth of the child or when an adoption order is granted, employees will be able to claim UIF for the consecutive 10 days (eg 8 working days).
Parental Leave must be applied for as per the company’s leave policy (if applicable), one month before the expected date of birth, or the date that the adoption order will be granted, or when the child is placed in the care of a prospective adoptive parent.
Parents who adopt children under the age of two years will be able to take adoptive leave of two months and two weeks consecutively (10 weeks consecutively). If there are two adoptive parents, only one will qualify for adoptive leave and the other parent may apply for 10 consecutive days of Parental Leave.
The Act also makes provision for parents who are part of a surrogacy agreement, one parent will be entitled to 10 consecutive weeks of commissioning Parental Leave and the other parent is entitled to 10 consecutive days of Parental Leave.
Employees will be able to claim UIF for the consecutive 10 days Parental Leave or 10 weeks adoptive or commissioning Parental Leave. An employee is entitled to an amount up to 66% of his or her regular earnings, subject to the maximum income threshold as per the Unemployment Insurance Act.
UIF Contributors will not be entitled to be paid from the Unemployment Insurance Fund for parental, adoptive or commissioning leave if they have not been employed and contributing to the fund for 13 weeks prior to applying for such benefit.
It is important to note that Employers are not obliged to pay employees when Parental Leave, adoptive leave or commissioning Parental Leave is taken.
It is important to note that the new amendments as stated above is gender neutral, both male and female employees may apply for and be granted the leave.
These changes do have an effect on Family Responsibility Leave. The three days’ Family Responsibility Leave that employees’ were entitled to for the birth of a child, was replaced with Parental Leave as per the Labour Laws Amendment Act of 2018. This means new parents will not be able to claim three days of paid Family Responsibility Leave as previously entitled.
The remainder of section 27 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (Family Responsibility Leave) remains intact, entitling employees to three days family responsibility leave when a child is sick (younger than 18 years of age) or alternatively upon the death of a family member as listed in the Act.
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