Fathers could spend up to two weeks with their newborn babies, while parents via adoption or surrogacy could get up to ten weeks of leave -- thanks to the Labour Laws Amendment Bill, which was passed by the National Assembly on Tuesday.
This made history, as it was the first time a private member's bill, proposed by African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) MP Cheryllyn Dudley, was passed in parliament.
Here are five things you need to know about the bill:
1. Fathers' paternity leave could be up to two weeks
An employee who is a parent and not entitled to maternity leave is entitled to ten consecutive days parental leave when that employee's child is born. According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, maternity leave for an employee can be up to four months.
2. A father must have his name on the child's birth certificate to qualify
"Fathers who do not have their names on the child's birth certificate cannot apply for parental leave," Dudley told HuffPost. This will help prevent dishonesty and also ensure that the bill "can't be used and abused".
3. Parents via adoption and via surrogacy could get up to ten weeks of parental leave
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 Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) will be required to pay for the new benefits.
4. Family responsibility leave falls away
The father of a newborn may take three days family responsibility leave in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act –– but under the amended bill, this no longer applies.
Dudley noted that a collective agreement concluded in a bargaining council may not reduce an employee's entitlement to parental leave, adoption leave or commissioning parental leave.
5. The bill might come into effect by June next year
The bill will now be referred to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for approval. If passed, it goes to President Jacob Zuma, who will sign it into law.
Speaking to HuffPost, Cosatu's parliamentary representative, Matthew Parks, said they hope this can be done by Easter next weekend -- if they manage that, the bill might come into effect before the first half of 2018 is over.