Labour Laws Amendment Bill, 2015

The LABOUR LAWS AMENDMENT BILL, 2015 which was finalized in the labour Committee today has been tabled for adoption in the National Assembly.   

This bill was originally drafted in line with proposals by Cheryllyn Dudley MP ACDP. It has survived an intense and thorough Committee process and has been further fine-tuned and strengthened.  Hon Dudley is the first opposition party member to have a private proposal reach this place and if it passes in the National Assembly- which it is expected to do as it has majority support -  IT WILL BE A FIRST FOR THE PARLIAMENT OF SA! 

LABOUR LAWS AMENDMENT BILL, 2015 - MEMORANDUM ON THE OBJECTIVES

1. BACKGROUND 

1.1 This Private Members Bill, i.e. the Labour Laws Amendment Bill (“the Bill”) was drafted in line with African Christian Democratic Party (“the ACDP”) policy on family values, the Green Paper on family and as a result of appeals made to the ACDP by fathers who felt strongly that provision should be made in law for “paternity leave”. Fathers play an important role in the upbringing of their children. Having done some research on this issue, the ACDP is of the opinion that such a provision would facilitate early bonding between fathers and their children and that stronger and healthier families would be one of the many potential benefits for society as a whole. 

1.2 The Bill which deals with parental leave and also provides for adoption and surrogacy leave is drafted in a manner to harmonise it with current legislation and to ensure the provisions contained in the Bill will pass constitutional muster. 

1.3 It is, however, important to note that the ACDP does not support, nor did it in the past support amendments to the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005) (“the Children’s Act”) which allowed for same-sex couples to adopt children. It is the view of the ACDP that the Bill will be relevant in the current situation. Should the Children’s Act be amended in the future, it is also the view of the ACDP that such an amendment should exclude same-sex couples. 

1.4 The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (Act No. 75 of 1997) (“the Basic Conditions of Employment Act”) provides that an employee may take four months maternity leave in respect of that employee’s child. This maternity leave is paid for by the Unemployment Insurance Fund. It further provides that an employee who is the father of the child may take three days family responsibility leave when that employee’s child is born. The family responsibility leave is paid for by the employer.  

1.5 Although an employee is entitled to adoption benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund, there is no legal obligation on an employer to grant an adoptive parent adoption leave, as the Basic Conditions of Employment Act does not make provision for the granting of adoption leave. Currently, adoption leave is a matter for negotiation between individual employees and employers. This can be seen as a major obstacle in the way of encouraging adoption. 

1.6 The Unemployment Insurance Act, 2001 (Act No. 63 of 2001) (“the Unemployment Insurance Act”) provides for the payment of maternity and adoption benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund. 

1.7 Neither the Basic Conditions of Employment Act nor the Unemployment Insurance Act makes provision for the taking of leave nor the payment of benefits in a case where an employee has become a parent through a surrogate motherhood agreement referred to in the Children’s Act. 

1.8 The Bill seeks to provide for parental leave, adoption leave and commissioning parental leave. It also provides for the payment of parental benefits as well as commissioning parental benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.