For many years, parents across South Africa have expressed dissatisfaction at only mothers being granted leave when a child is born or adopted into the family. On Friday, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Labour Laws Amendment Bill into law.
The amendments that were made allow working parents who have just had a baby, or adopted a child under two years old, to take at least 10 consecutive days of paid parental leave, whether they are the mother or father.
While on leave, parents will be paid out by the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
This amendment to the Labour Laws Bill was tabled as a private members bill by Cheryllyn Dudley, a Member of Parliament (MP) for the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), and includes the following:
– An employee, who is a parent of a child, will receive ten consecutive days of parental leave
– An employee who is an adoptive parent of a child below the age of two, will also receive adoption leave of at least ten consecutive weeks, or a minimum ten consecutive days of parental leave.
The originator of the act, Henri Terblanche, petitioned parliament with the proposal for parental leave before the ACDP tabled the private member’s bill.
“This is an achievement that every South African can be proud of,” Terblanche told TimesLIVE.
The amendment is gender neutral, and Terblanche opined that it would contribute to a much more equal society as both parents are recognised in their caregiving roles.
A report compiled by Sonke Gender Justice supported Terblanche’s petition, and presented that children who receive quality care from, and have healthy bonding and attachment with, their parents in the first 1 000 days of their lives are less likely to need health services than children who do not receive adequate care and bonding.
The same organisation conducted a State of South Africa’s Father report earlier this year, which found that mothers who had just given birth are unable to do all the care work required to keep an infant both healthy and safe on their own. It also told that if a mother has given birth by Caesarian section, she needs a minimum of 10 days to recover before she can adequately care for her child without assistance.