In 2014, the International Labour Organisation's report on maternity and paternity policy around the world revealed that of the 167 countries analysed, only 79 had made legal provision for paternity leave. (Getty Images)
Working South African dads are now entitled to 10 days of paternity leave after the birth of their children.
President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Labour Relations and Labour Amendment acts into law on Friday.
The Labour Amendment Act also includes provisions for 10 weeks of parental adoption leave if the baby is under the age of two years (applies to one parent only) and surrogacy leave, as well as increased UIF and maternity benefits.
NGO Sonke Gender Justice said it was “an incredible victory for parents in South Africa”.
“Now an employee who is a parent not covered by maternity leave is entitled to 10 consecutive days’ parental leave when their child is born or when an adoption order is granted. Congratulations to all who have tirelessly advocated for this,” the organisation said.
“Parental leave for fathers creates a valuable opportunity for fathers to do unpaid care work and to bond with their children. Child development research is clear on the fact that a child bonds with the adults that provide for their basic survival needs, in other words, the adults who care for them,” according to Sonke.
“Research evidence from countries that offer paternity leave supports the intuitive idea that an emotional connection during infanthood would lead to long-term involvement in care, and that fathers would then take more responsibility for their children’s development.”
ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley, who was a principal force behind the legislation, said: “The ACDP welcomes news of the signing into law of these historic pro-worker laws.”
“It has been an honour and a privilege for me to have been instrumental through the labour laws amendment bill in adding to this victory,” Dudley added.
In addition to paternity benefits, the act will see UIF benefits for workers losing their jobs increase from eight to 12 months, the ACDP said.
“It will see women covered by maternity leave when having a stillborn birth or third trimester miscarriage.
“It will see maternity leave payments increase from 54% to 66% of salaries within the thresholds.
“This will see billions of rands released from the UIF into workers’ hands and thus spur local economic growth.
“It will see UIF protection extended to public servants and a healthy boost to the UIF through their contributions. This will allow further future expansion of access to the UIF and its protections for workers. This is critical in an economic recession where thousands are being retrenched,” the party said.
In 2014, the International Labour Organisation’s report on maternity and paternity policy around the world revealed that of the 167 countries analysed, only 79 had made legal provision for paternity leave. — News 24