NEWS

'Paternity Leave' Bill –– Father Must Be On Birth Certificate

No chancers allowed –– a father's name is required on a child's birth certificate to qualify for paternity leave under new bill.

29/11/2017 12:20 SAST | Updated 30/11/2017 11:49 SAST

<iframe height="355px" width="630px" src="https://scripts.24.co.za/iframe/huffingtonpost/2.2/iframe.html?videoname=VOXFATHER10DAYSPM&thumburl=https://cdn.pbrd.co/images/GVSRqrH.jpg" allowfullscreen></iframe>A father cannot be approved for paternity leave unless his name is on the child's birth certificate.

This forms part of the conditions specified in the Labour Laws Amendment Bill, adopted by the National Assembly on Tuesday -- which would give fathers 10 days parental leave.

"This is to ensure that men can't use and abuse the bill," said Cheryllyn Dudley, the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) MP who brought the private member's bill to parliament.

The bill also provides for adoption and commissioning parental leave (leave for parents whose newborns have been commissioned via a surrogate pregnancy) -- for periods of up to ten weeks. Previously there was no legislation for this, Dudley pointed out.

She is delighted with the bill, which has been in the works for over four years, saying it is a step in the right direction.

"It's a cry from the heart of working people in South Africa –– women not wanting to carry the mothering responsibility alone, and fathers who want to be more involved in their children's lives, but are squeezed out of them because of work," she explained.

The bill will also likely help fathers take more responsibility, she believes.

These sentiments were also shared by Sonke Gender Justice's Bafana Khumalo. "Research shows that when fathers play a stronger role in their children's lives, it positively impacts on everyone in the family. Levels of violence also decrease."

"So I strongly believe that we'll see more fathers playing more of an active role, to the ultimate good of society," he said.

Cosatu's parliamentary head, Matthew Parks, also expressed delight, believing this is a progressive move for same-sex couples who adopt or have children via surrogacy –– both can now be present in the first few days of their child's life.

According to the bill, an employee who is an adoptive parent of a child who is less than two years old is entitled to adoption leave of two months and two weeks consecutively. In the case of two adoptive parents, one of the employees is entitled to adoption leave, and the other to parental leave. The same provision applies for parents-to-be via surrogacy.

The bill will now be referred to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for adoption. This may happen by 2018's Easter weekend, said Parks, meaning the bill could come into effect by June next year.