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Friday, December 8, 2023

Parental Leave: Now What?

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The High Court in Johannesburg recently ruled that the current leave model (for parents of newborns) was unconstitutional, as it only took birth mothers into account, paying little regard to the role of fathers, adoptive parents or parents through surrogacy.


This means “maternity” leave is out, and four-month paid “parental” leave is in.


The court set aside the next two years for certain legislative and related changes to be made, so as to reflect the new parental leave model.


Namuma Mulindi of non-profit organisation Sonke Gender Justice, says it should be noted that the parental leave period is not available for each parent, yet.


“The four-month leave, as of now – with the interim decision of the high court – is to be shared between the parties in this interim time.”


Lauren Salts, an executive in the employment department of the ENS Law Firm, spoke with Benito Vergonite on his show, The Honest Truth, on what employers now need to consider with this new ruling.


“The questions that [will] arise [relate] to whether or not this additional leave impacts their paid leave policies, where they do pay for maternity leave currently, and whether this is going to then see an increase in leave liability.”


Mulindi adds that as much as a decision has been made, it does not mean the ruling is immediately in effect.


“There are certain considerations that has to be made. For instance, if the Department of Labour decides to appeal this matter, then everything goes on hold.”


Global Outlook On Parental Leave


The concept of shared parental leave is not new, Salt looks at Iceland and the UK, where this type of leave has been implemented. Iceland offers the highest number of days for leave, with each parent getting three years off work, she says. Salts added that the UK offers 12 months of parental leave, where 50 weeks thereof can be split between the parents.


“This is not something that is completely unfamiliar, when we’re looking at global trends.”

Caitlin Maledo
Caitlin Maledo
Caitlin is an enthusiastic journalist, that has been exploring her interest in broadcast media since 2019. With a natural curiosity for the world around her, you'll always find her poking around hidden gems throughout Cape Town and surrounds.

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