Paternity Leave South Africa – Law & FAQ

South Africa is concerned about its citizens and has ensured the law has clear stipulations that safeguard the rights and privileges of everyone, irrespective of where they belong in society. When it comes to employees working in the country, the law has provisions for their entitlements, which they enjoy without having to be scared of losing their job or something related. 

In South Africa, the BCEA has taken care of a lot of things that concern employees, giving them the boldness to enjoy entitlements like paternity leave (which is what this article is basically going to be about). It has been clarified already that employees in the country with at least four months of service have the right to fully paid family responsibility leave of three days during each annual leave cycle (12 months). 

Paternity Leave South Africa

The BCEA has explained that the family responsibilities that may allow a worker to opt for their paternity leave include the birth of a child, as well as some other family events. Nevertheless, they have to render reasonable proof of the event necessitating family responsibility leave before their employer can approve it.

According to the Act, you as a worker is actually entitled to a 10-day leave paid paternity leave on the birth of a child (paid through Unemployment Insurance Fund). The Act also stood for folks who are adopting a child, stipulating that anyone in this category is also entitled to a paternity leave of 10 days from the date the adoption order is granted. For adopting parents, if the date the child is placed into their care by a competent court (as they await the finalisation of an adoption order in respect of that child) should come first, then they can claim their paternity leave too.

 It must however be noted that, except in cases where the worker is unable to do so (maybe because he is illiterate), any employee who wishes to demand this entitlement is expected to notify their employer in writing. The worker should clearly make known when they plan to start the parental leave. Of course, they should also ensure they return to work after the expiration of the parental leave. 

As an employee, the Act also stipulates that you have to give the notification to your boss at least one month before your child is expected to be born. If you are adopting a child, then you should have given the notification at least one month before the adoption date (or the adoption order date). Nevertheless, if it is not reasonably practicable to give the notification before then, you should try as much as possible to give the notification as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Finally, the Act stipulates that the paternity benefit of employees in South Africa must be paid at a rate of 66% of the earnings of the beneficiary at the date of application. This is subject to the maximum income threshold set in the UIA. Nevertheless, depending on several factors, you can choose to negotiate with your boss as regards payments and see if you can establish a deal with them that can make them agree to supplement your payment internally.

How Many Days Is Paternity Leave In South Africa?

10 days is the answer. Even when president Cyril Ramaphosa made an amendment to the Act (which has been in effect since  1 January 2020), the number of days which South African workers can enjoy their paternity leave is still the same – 10 days. 

The new legislation signed by Mr. President has given all parents (it doesn’t matter if you are a father if you are an adopting parent or even surrogates) the right to claim a 10-day parental leave when their children are born.

Is Paternity Leave Paid Leave In South Africa?

Yes, the ACT clarified that you are, as a worker in South Africa, entitled to a 10-day leave paid paternity leave on the birth of a child. 

Nevertheless, it should be noted that this payment is made via the Unemployment Insurance Fund and not directly from your employer’s pocket.

Also, paternity leave in South Africa is different from family responsibility leave. While the number of days for paternity leave is ten, the number of days an employee in the country can claim their family responsibility leave is three. So, if you are aware of this one before, and you are wondering if or not it is still available even after the amendments, the answer is, ‘yes’, South African workers can still claim their three days family responsibility leave, which is different from parental leave. But it should be explained that the family responsibility leave in South Africa cannot be claimed when a child is born. Rather, it is claimed in cases where a child falls sick or passes away.

Do Fathers Get Paid For Paternity Leave In South Africa

Yes, fathers too can go on paternity leave, and they are also entitled to payment (which is paid through the Unemployment Insurance Fund). 

It must however be noted that paternity leave is different from maternity leave. While the former can be claimed (with full backing from the law) by all parents (even adopting parents and surrogates), the latter is for mothers.

How Much Paternity Leave Are Fathers Entitled To In South Africa?

In the BCEA, as a worker in South Africa, with at least four months of service, you are entitled to fully paid family responsibility leave of three days during each annual leave cycle (12 months). 

You have the right to claim a 10-day leave for paternity leave after your boss had approved it. Of course, as explained earlier, it is necessary for employees to give a notice of at least one month before the time you want the paternity leave to start, as far as it is reasonable to do so. 

It has been stated that all employers in the country should also amend their employment contracts to make them compliant with this law to avoid unnecessary clashes.

Do I Get Full Pay On Paternity Leave

Workers will be given a partial payout actually. It can be up to 66% of your salary. If you are wondering if you can bargain this as a father, of course, it depends on several factors. Basically, you can negotiate some kind of co-payment with your boss, asking that they pay the balance of your salary, and to even establish a work back contract for when you return back to work after the end of the leave. Don’t forget that payment for the leave is not directly the responsibility of your boss, but you will be paid out of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). This is what the law catering for this has stipulated already.

So, as the paternity leave may commence when your child is born (or when, for adopting parents, from the date the adoption order is granted), the Act offers the scope for you to negotiate with your employers.


DISCLAIMER: Everyone should note that this article was written only for general informational purposes for readers. Not only does it not address individual circumstances, it is also not a substitute for professional advice or expert assistance where and when necessary. Hence, we are stating categorically that this article should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. 

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