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Uncertainty about the parental leave benefit

As of the 1st of November 2019, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) is able to commence the processing of claims for parental leave.

However, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), which creates the right for employees to take parental leave, has yet to be amended. The Minister has not as yet published the required notice that actually creates the entitlement of such period of parental or adoption leave in terms of the BCEA into effect.

The new Parental Leave provision states that employees (not qualifying for maternity leave) are entitled to take a maximum of 10 consecutive days of parental leave a year when their child is born. Parental leave still remains unpaid leave; unless company policy dictates otherwise.

The parental leave benefit is also applicable to adoptive parents and commissioning parents. Employees can submit claims to UIF for parental leave benefits in the following events:

  • The birth of an employee’s child where the employee has been registered as the father;
  • An employee is the parent or prospective parent of an adoptive child under the age of two years old; and
  • The employee is a parent of a child born through a surrogacy agreement.

Adoptive parental leave differs slightly: one of the prospective adoptive parents will be entitled to 10 consecutive weeks of unpaid adoption leave. If there is a second adoptive parent, the other adoptive parent will only be permitted to apply for parental leave. Parental leave in this case will entitle an employee to 10 consecutive days leave:

  • after the employee’s child has been born
  • when an adoption order has been granted by a competent court, or
  • when a child has been placed in the care of the prospective adoptive parent.

Contributors will only be entitled to payment from UIF for parental leave if they were employed and contributing to UIF for at least 13 weeks prior to applying for the parental / adoptive leave benefit. These benefits will only be paid out if the employee can produce proof that he/she is a parent of the child.

Once the benefit becomes law, policies and contracts will need to be amended as soon as possible thereafter. As for now, we have to wait for the notice of the Minister in the form of the Government Gazette before implementation can take place.

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