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Find out why this Cape Town man is fighting for paternity leave (Plus your legal obligations when it comes to this leave type)

by , 17 July 2014
Paternity leave has always been a contentious and, to a certain extent misunderstood, topic.

For starters, in South Africa, there have always been debates about whether men are entitled to take leave when they become fathers and how long his paternity leave should be.

While those debates have died down, a Cape Town man has brought the issue of paternity leave back into the spotlight.

Keep reading to find out what he wants through his petition - we'll also set the record straight regarding your legal obligations when it comes to paternity leave so you can comply with labour law.

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Here's what this Cape Town man wants when it comes to paternity leave

According to an IOL report, Hendri Terblanche is petitioning for ten days' paternity leave to be provided for fathers in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. He says he's asking for ten days to get fathers more involved in the care of their children.

Terblanche consulted the constitution and found that 'any interested persons' could submit a petition to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and any MP could present a petition to the National Assembly.

He submitted his petition to the chairwoman of the NCOP, Thandi Modise, on July 3. He also approached every member of Parliament and urged them to draft a bill for consideration by the National Assembly.

The good news is Modise has acknowledged his petition and says it'll be referred to the select committee on petitions and executive undertakings 'for consideration and report'.

Now let's take a look at your legal obligations when it comes to paternity leave because they're linked to why this Cape Town man is fighting for this type of leave.

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Here are your legal obligations when it comes to paternity leave

Paternity leave is leave your company grants an employee when he becomes a father.

When it comes to South Africa labour laws, there's no provision that deals with paternity leave.

But because the Basic Conditions of Employment Act includes a provision for family responsibility leave in Section 27, a father can take three days family responsibility leave a year when his child is born.

In this article, we explain that, you're required to grant your employee three days of family responsibility leave per 12 month leave cycle. This means your employee can take family responsibility leave for a whole day or part of a day when his child is born.

Note: If a father (biological and adoptive) chooses to take his three days paid leave at the time his child is born, he cancels any further paid family leave for that year.

In a nutshell, Terblanche is arguing that it's not fair that legally fathers only get three days' family responsibility leave from employers because this isn't sufficient to bond with a new born.

I'll be interesting to see what comes out of this petition. If it's considered, it could affect how you grant this type of leave. In the meantime, make sure you stick to your legal obligations when it comes to paternity leave.



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