Paid leave Bill hailed as landmark achievement for parental rights

New bill allows for adoption and surrogacy leave.
New bill allows for adoption and surrogacy leave.
Image: 123RF/WAVEBREAK MEDIA Ltd

The Labour Laws Amendment Bill‚ which was passed by the National Assembly on Tuesday‚ is a landmark achievement for parental rights as it allows for all parents to access parental leave‚ regardless of gender.

“This Bill is a landmark achievement for LGBTQI (Lesbian‚ Gay‚ Bisexual‚ Transsexual‚ Queer and Intersex) people and for sexual orientation and gender identity rights in South Africa since it is gender-neutral and allows for adoption and surrogacy leave‚” Sonke Gender Justice’s Wessel van den Berg said on Wednesday.

Van den Berg‚ Sonke’s children’s rights and positive-parenting unit manager‚ said the Bill allowed for adoption and surrogacy leave‚ which was not available before.

“The Bill now allows for all parents to access leave. This includes fathers and adoptive parents‚” Van den Berg said.

In terms of the Bill‚ an employee who is a parent and who is not entitled to maternity leave‚ is entitled to ten consecutive days’ parental leave when their child is born or when an adoption order is granted.

It also enables an adoptive parent of a child under two years old to take adoption leave of two months and two weeks consecutively. If there are two adoptive parents‚ one of them is entitled to adoption leave and the other employee is entitled to parental leave of 10 days.

The same provision is made for commissioning parents in a surrogate motherhood agreement.

It also provides that family responsibility leave no longer applies when a child is born and a collective agreement concluded in a bargaining council may not reduce an employee’s entitlement to parental leave‚ adoption leave or commissioning parental leave.

“The Constitution has allowed for same-sex marriage‚ but we have not allowed for same-sex parenting. This Bill allows for gay parents to enjoy the benefits of taking care of their children‚” Van den Berg said.

He said that although leave for fathers was good‚ the Bill also provided for an increase in percentage for maternity leave benefits and the improved Unemployment Insurance Fund benefits for millions of workers.

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