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Time off work breakthrough for adoptive parents

Young children playing dress up
Young children playing dress up
Image: 123rf

African Christian Democratic Party MP Cheryllyn Dudley has made history for successfully piloting a bill that provides clarity on leave for employees who adopt young children — instead of requiring them to take either family responsibility leave or annual leave — through the first private members bill brought by an opposition party to be passed in parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

Dudley said she was honoured by the acceptance of the Labour Laws Amendment Bill — “a bill which has been in the making for the past four years“.

“Fathers play an important role in the upbringing of their children and the research done by the ACDP left us in no doubt that the provisions contained in this bill would facilitate early bonding between fathers and their children and that stronger and healthier families would be one of the many potential benefits for society as a whole‚” she said.

“This Bill — which deals with parental leave and also provides for adoption and surrogacy leave — is drafted so as to harmonise it with current legislation and to ensure the provisions contained in the bill are constitutional‚” Dudley explained.

She said the Bill amends the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act and corrects obsolete references to the Acts. It provides that:

- An employee who is a parent and who is not entitled to maternity leave‚ is entitled to ten consecutive days parental leave when that employee’s child is born or when an adoption order is granted.

- An employee who is an adoptive parent of a child who is less than two years is entitled to adoption leave of two months and two weeks consecutively.If there are two adoptive parents‚ one of the employees is entitled to adoption leave and the other employee is entitled to parental leave. The same provision is made for commissioning parents in a surrogate motherhood agreement.

- family responsibility leave when a child is born no longer applies 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 Bill also sets out the requirements for the right to parental‚ adoption and commissioning parental benefits as well as when the entitlements commence. It further provides for the application for benefits and the payment thereof.

“There will of course be financial implications for the State‚ in particular the Unemployment Insurance Fund‚ which will be required to pay the new benefits‚” Dudley noted.

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