Delays prevent roll-out of paternity leave legislation
Publish date: 15 May 2019
Issue Number: 286
Diary: Legalbrief Workplace
Delays in the UIF's implementation system are preventing the roll-out SA’s new paternity law amendments, writes Legalbrief. Countless fathers have been left out in the cold after the government failed to make good on new legislation giving them 10 days of paid paternity leave. According to a Sunday Times report, an amendment to the law was ratified last November and 1 January was earmarked for its implementation, but the Department of Labour has not yet activated it. Men currently do not qualify for any paid paternity leave. Labour lawyer Michael Bagraim, who joined the fight for the new legislation, said he was ‘gobsmacked’ that six months had passed since the new legislation was approved. The report says a query to the Labour Department was referred to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), which redirected the query back to the department. Department spokesperson Thembinkosi Mkalipi said parental leave was ‘passed by Parliament and signed into law by the President’, but the UIF was ‘not ready with their systems’.
But there is good news for employees of Swedish car maker Volvo Car SA which, as part of a global initiative, has launched a paid gender-neutral parental leave policy offering mothers and fathers a total of six months leave with 80% pay. The initiative is also applicable to same-sex parents and parents of adopted children, reports Business Report. Known across the globe for its generous parental leave arrangements, Volvo’s parent leave policy will be the first of its kind in the SA motoring industry, delivering tangible benefits for both parents and children. According to the report, SA is known to offer some form of paid parental leave often with a large discrepancy between what is available to mothers and fathers – often to the disadvantage of fathers. Moreover, equal parental leave offers the potential to boost labour market and career opportunities for women by reducing career and pay gaps. ‘The winners in this battle for talent will be companies that value diversity, gender equality, modern and flexible working practices, and employee well-being,’ said Greg Maruszewski, Volvo Car SA MD.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal in the UK has heard two cases that consider whether it is discriminatory for employers to enhance maternity pay but not shared parental pay – the outcome of which could have a significant impact on organisations’ policies. Personnel Today reports that both cases consider whether it is sex discrimination for employers to enhance pay for women on maternity leave, but offer only the statutory rate for both men and women on shared parental leave. Commenting on the cases, Working Families CEO Jane van Zyl said: ‘To make shared parental leave financially viable for more families, we encourage employers that can afford it to go beyond the minimum statutory pay. In addition, Working Families continues to call for a properly paid, standalone period of extended paternity leave for fathers, enabling them to bond with their child in the first year and help kick-start culture change around who works and who has caring responsibilities.’