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Parental leave & benefits, what HR needs to know

 • By : John Botha | Global Business Solutions

The fragmented nature of the series of amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act (UIA) and Basic Conditions of Employment Act as a result of the Labour Laws Amendment Act (LLAA) has left many Human Resource professionals uncertain about the extent of benefits and leave that employees may claim in terms of the new forms of parental leave and benefits.

As it stands, the UIF amendments in terms of the opportunity to apply for up to 10 days parental leave paid by the UIF Act only have been promulgated. Importantly and to address the confusion, the corresponding BCEA provisions have not been promulgated. What this means is that employers are not yet obliged to grant up to 10 days of parental leave under the BCEA. However, if they do, the employee can claim the prescribed compensation from UIF.

We are eagerly awaiting a further Presidential sign-off that promulgates the BCEA and all the UIF provisions that attend not only to the parental leave provisions but also to adoption and commissioning parental leave.

Under these provisions, an employee, who is an adoptive parent of a child who is below the age of two or who is in a commissioning parental environment, will be entitled under the amendments, to leave of at least 10 consecutive weeks funded by the UI fund.  In the case of adoption, it is critical to understand that a competent court must issue an order before the adoption parental leave is activated. An employee may commence commissioning parental leave on the date a child is born as a result of a surrogate motherhood agreement.

Organisations will be well advised to start looking at predictive statistics to determine the impact of these extended leave provisions on workforce planning. This would be done by considering the trends of previous years’ use of family responsibility and maternity leave, demographics of the workforce and the like.

In addition, the need to build talent pools that will allow for the availability of the right people with the right skills at the right times will be crucial. Temporary Employment Services (TES) are focusing a lot of time in fixed-term contract management and skills intermediation and will be well-placed to partner with organisations in this area specifically in that “genuine absenteeism replacements” are not subject to the equal treatment provisions of s198A and s198B of the Labour Relations Act.