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Why the hold up with Parental Leave?

Amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, in November 2018 left both male and female employers excited at the prospect of additional leave for both new moms and dads. For the first time in South Africa, working dads are able to take leave when there is a new baby joining the family. In the past, new dads were restricted to using just the 3 days of Family Responsibility leave when there was a new baby in the family. Once used, there is no further opportunity, until a new leave cycle, for the working father to take leave other than unpaid, if and when the little one is ill or when baby’s mom is in need of assistance with looking after the baby, in the early months. During the first few months, many things can happen with baby which might require working dad’s to take some time off work to help out. So it was with great anticipation that the South African working force awaited the implementation of the new legislation.

Working Mom’s, desperate to spend 2 extra months with their new-born, an update is long-overdue regarding their extended maternity leave. And the promise of a higher UIF pay-rate, gave hope to those in need of financial assistance, at an especially trying financial time.

Similarly, employers (HR departments especially) have been waiting at the edge of their desks for news on when they can update the company’s policy, payroll processes and confirm to their employees what their rights are when the time comes for baby to arrive.

The new Parental Leave section of the BCEA has been gazetted so why the delay in implementation? The issue arises when it comes to the physical roll-out of the payments from the UIF. The additional parental leave is not required to be paid by Employers but rather to be taken as unpaid leave and then the loss of earnings to be claimed from UIF. The uFiling online website was upgraded in May of 2019 with new functionality which improved upon the services and information provided regarding UIF.

After electronic claims were enabled the process has never quite been a smooth or seamless one because of the integrity of the data regarding the employment history of the claimants. For a long time, UIF has taken the opportunity to update missing information, onto the system when employees try to claim from the fund. Missing information results from the lack of adequate processes being in place for employers to submit to the Dept. Technology has been slow in coming to the party at UIF. And it appears as if, although they have most certainly improved the uFiling website, it is still not fully functional and some data is still incorrect, or missing.

UFiling has to be further upgraded to allow new moms and dads to claim for their 6 months (as opposed to 4 months), or 10 days, respectively and this is the reason why employees and employers alike, remain unsure of what to do regarding Paternity leave.

Payroll systems should be updated to align with the new legislation which has been gazetted. If your policy is that maternity leave is unpaid, then there is no further financial impact, other than the cost of replacing the services of the employee who is taking maternity leave. If that is the case and you want to allow your staff the option of the unpaid Parental leave, payroll rules can be updated accordingly. Contact Pay Solutions to discuss further if you are not sure of your current Paternity leave rules.