Some of the long-awaited provisions regarding parental leave came into effect on 1 November 2019. But not all is what it seems.
Not all provisions have come into effect
The provisions that came into effect on 1 November 2019 are sections 8(a)(cA), 11, 15 and 16 of the Labour Laws Amendment Act of 2018. These are amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act of 2001 (UIA) which give employees the right to claim parental benefits, including adoption benefits, in terms of the UIA.
The UIA provisions pertaining to commissioning parental benefits – arising out of surrogate motherhood - have not yet come into effect.
Do employers have to comply?
It seems rather odd that the associated amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment (BCEA) – which form the basis of employees’ right vis-à-vis the employer to take parental leave – have not yet been promulgated. What does this mean?
In our view employers are not legally bound to implement parental leave until the BCEA provisions have come into effect. However, given the fact that the Department of Labour is already processing claims, employers have nothing to lose by granting employees the parental leave mentioned.
In fact, this duality provides employers with an opportunity to introduce policies and procedures surrounding paternal leave without being under pressure from legislation to do so.
The Department of Labour has indicated that they are ready to process claims for parental leave benefits through manual application (as the electronic systems are not yet functional).
Qualifying UIF contributors (i.e. employees who have been employed for at least 13 weeks) can submit the prescribed application form at their nearest Labour Centre. Application forms need to be accompanied by the following supporting documents:
· Identity Document of the applicant;
· Birth Certificate of the child with full details of parents; and
· Details of a valid bank account.
How much can employees claim?
The benefits payable will be 66% of their earnings, subject to the maximum income threshold (threshold for benefit claims is currently R17 712.00 per month).
Forms to claim parental benefits can be obtained at http://www.labour.gov.za/parental-leave-forms
For more details surrounding the various forms of parental leave, click here.
Jan Truter for www.labourwise.co.za