Petition for 'elder care leave' in SA gets a boost

A private citizen is fighting for employees to be allowed to take time off to care for sick or terminally ill elderly parents. Stock image.
A private citizen is fighting for employees to be allowed to take time off to care for sick or terminally ill elderly parents. Stock image.
Image: 123rf.com

A bid by a private citizen to amend the law to allow employees to take time off to care for their ageing parents who are sick or terminally ill has received a boost.

Hendri Terblanche got a letter from Lechesa Tsenoli, deputy speaker of the National Assembly, on October 31 confirming that his petition for elder care leave would be referred for consideration by the portfolio committee on employment and labour.

Terblanche petitioned parliament in July 2018 to amend the basic conditions of employment act to include “parent‚ adoptive or grandparent” in the section relating to time off work.

He proposed in a letter to the national council of provinces that employees should get three days paid leave, or six weeks unpaid leave, when a parent or adoptive parent was ill.

"As the population in South Africa ages, more time needs to be devoted to take care of our elders," he said in the letter.

"Our parents have dedicated their whole lives to take care of us to the best of their abilities, and now it is our time to take care of our parents to the best of our abilities." 

Parliament’s select committee on petitions and executive undertakings discussed the petition in October 2018, and Terblanche was invited to present arguments on the matter.

Terblanche welcomed the latest development on Monday.

"Employees with care-giving responsibilities are now another step closer to legally fulfill their care-giving duties without the risk of losing their jobs.

"Eldercare leave will not only ensure we can take better care of our elders, but it will also ensure that the Basic Conditions of Employment act 75 of 1997 is more in line with the constitution, African charter on human and people's rights and even the 2030 national development plan," said Terblanche.

This is not the first time he approached parliament with suggestions to amend the law.

He successfully petitioned parliament in 2017 to allow men to get more days off to take care of their newborn children.

President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Labour Laws Amendment Bill into law in November 2018, allowing an employee who was a parent not covered by maternity leave to 10 consecutive days’ parental leave when their child was born.

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