PAID PARENTAL LEAVE APPROVED BY NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
By Mark Mfikoe, National Director, ECA(SA)
The Labour Laws Amendment Bill as approved by the National assembly will change the Electrical Industries Main Collective Agreement. As things stand in the electrical contracting industry, parental leave is included under family responsibility leave. This provides that an employee shall be entitled to three days’ paid leave when the employee’s child is born plus another two days leave in a two-year cycle to be called paternity leave. This means that the maximum that an employee can ever take when his child is born is five days.
When the recently approved Labour Laws Amendment Bill becomes law, this arrangement will change. Even though the current Collective Agreement only expires in 2022, the provision dealing with family responsibility leave, to the extent that it is in conflict with the provisions approved, will be extinct when the bill becomes an Act. According to clause 5 of this Bill, a collective agreement concluded in a bargaining council like the Electrical Industry Bargaining Council, may not reduce an employees’ entitlement to parental leave, adoption leave or commissioning parental leave. We will talk about adoption leave and commissioning leave and associated benefits in subsequent articles. For now, we will only focus on parental leave.
An employee who is a parent and who is not entitled to maternity leave, is entitled to ten consecutive days’ parental leave when that employee’s child is born. Ordinarily such an employee would be a male. The employee entitled to maternity leave in terms of the Main Collective Agreement of the Electrical Contracting Industry is the mother of the child, the father is not. Because the Bill provides for 10 days’ consecutive leave days and the Collective Agreement, at worst provides for three days and five at best, the Collective Agreement would have no force or effect because the Bill deliberately holds power over the Collective Agreements as far as parental leave is concerned.
This is additional leave and is not to be deducted from the employee’s annual leave, leave bonus, sick leave or any such leave. The Bill limits the party’s capacity to vary or change this provision. The parties to the Collective Agreement may give more days and not less days than provided. Please note that this leave is not limited to the number of children per year. Three children from three different mothers at different times of the year means 30 days for one male employee. He also doesn’t have to be married to any of the mothers. You cannot limit the application of this provision with an employment contract either. If a Collective Agreement cannot stand against this bill, then an individual contract of employment has no chance. We will keep you updated. Look out for adoptive parent and commissioning parent leave in subsequent publications.