human resources

Paternity Leave in South Africa

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Paternity Leave in South Africa
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Paternity leave in South Africa remains a topic surrounded by confusion, especially after new parental laws were introduced in January 2020. Three new leave types relating to paternity leave in South Africa were added to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA): parental leave, adoption leave; and commissioning parental leave. But what does this mean? And how does it affect you? We take a closer look at what the amended, as highlighted by Labourwise, states.

Parental leave

When an employee becomes a parent, regardless of gender, they are entitled to 10 consecutive days’ parental leave, which may begin from when the child is born. It is important to note that these are calendar days, not working days, so if a baby is born on a Monday, the parent may take leave from that day until Wednesday the following week. Parental leave doesn’t apply for mothers who give birth, who are entitled to maternity leave.

Adoption leave

The adoption process is slightly more complicated than regular childbirth, which is why adoptive parents are entitled to 10 consecutive weeks’ adoption leave. However, if there are two adoptive parents, only one may take adoption leave while the other is entitled to regular parental leave (10 consecutive days). The leave may start from the day the adoption order is granted, or the day the child is placed in the care of the prospective adoptive parent.

Commissioning parental leave

Commissioning parental leave relates to surrogacy. The BCEA states that the parent who will primarily be responsible for looking after the child, which is delivered via a surrogate mother, will receive 10 consecutive weeks off. In the event that there are two parents, one is entitled to take the 10 consecutive weeks while the other is entitled to normal parental leave of 10 consecutive days. Leave in both instances can begin from the day the child is born.

When should an employee give notice?

When it comes to regular birth, an employee is required to give at least one months written notice prior to the expected date of birth, as well as when the leave will begin and end.

In the case of adoption, an employee must provide at least a month’s notification prior to the date an adoption order is granted, or the date that the court places the child in the care of prospective parents.

A matter of pay

Remuneration and paternity leave in South Africa is something that is often misunderstood. Are these days paid or unpaid? The BCEA states that, in all three of the new categories that have been added, the leave is unpaid. That’s not to say employees will walk away empty handed. If they have been employed for at least 13 weeks they are eligible to claim benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

There is a maximum income threshold, which for benefit claims is currently R17 712 per month. If they meet the criteria, employees can receive 66% of their earnings. It must be noted however, that the contribution ceiling remains at R14 872.

Managing leave

Managing all these types of leave can be a headache, but it’s much simpler if you have a good leave management system in place. LeavePro includes all of the types of leave required by the BCEA and more. Employees can apply for leave online and managers get all the information they need to approve or decline applications.

Find out more or try it free at