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News: Paternity leave may be of great societal interest. But could it pose difficult labour issues?

by , 15 October 2015
According to a recent article on BD Live, experts say that if fathers can play a larger role in rearing their children, then it can benefit society in many ways - and paternity leave can help do this.

In addition, getting fathers more involved can help to achieve true gender equality – according to The State of the World's Fathers report.

Wessel van den Berg of Sonke Gender Justice says that fathers with close connections to their children are generally happier and can even be more productive.

Now, when it comes to paternity leave, it's worth noting that, as reported by BD Live, only 92 of the 196 countries offer paternity leave. And despite this, women still have more time off to care for their offspring (maternity leave) as opposed to male employees – despite the fact that women comprise a total of 40% of the global workforce. 

In South Africa, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act allows for three days' Family Responsibility Leave, which is granted to employees who have worked for a period of at least four months.


'My husband's sister's boyfriend's mother's uncle just passed away and I need to go to the funeral'

If you've granted family responsibility leave in any of these circumstances, you're just like most managers I know.

But, here's what you don't know...
But some companies grant fathers more leave in the belief that they perform better in their jobs.

According to Lee Marcus of Cape-Town based Marcus and Associates Attorneys: 'One cannot argue against the obvious merits of a more equitable approach to parental leave, or the obvious systemic benefits of better parenting.'
But he further argues that paternity leave poses a serious labour law issue.

'Constitutional and equity imperatives are competing with the realities of an already overregulated and burdensome labour law regime in the country.'

He says that, while the pursuit of equity in terms of maternity/paternity leave is admirable, it may prove difficult to set further legal obligations upon employers – and it may be that the issue could remain a matter of negotiation between father and employer.

The one thing EVERY HR professional in South Africa NEEDS to stay up to date with how the latest changes to the BCEA, EEA and LRA affect your company
Dealing with your employees can be confusing, frustrating and daunting at the best of times. From recruiting to disciplinary hearings, performance management, maternity leave and more, the work of an HR professional never ends.
But if there's one thing I'm sure about, it's this: All those issues are going to seem like a walk in the park compared to what you will face this year.
Because not only will you have to put up with every day HR headaches, you now have to make sure every action your management team takes is 100% up to speed with the 70 plus labour Act changes that came into law this past year.
Here's how to make sure you know exactly what you need to do stay complaint.


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