By Stephen Khola, ECA(SA) National Labour Relations & HR Director
The current family responsibility leave provisions in the Main Collective Agreement in the Electrical Contracting Industry provide as follows:
- During each leave cycle, an employee shall be entitled to a period of three days’ paid leave which may be taken:
- When the employee’s child is born;
- When the employee’s child is sick;
- In the event of the death of a member of the employee’s immediate family
- “In addition to the above provisions an employee shall be granted a maximum of two days in a two-year cycle as paternity leave for the birth of the employee’s child.”
The promulgation of the Labour Laws Amendment Act, 10 of 2018 has repealed the above-mentioned provisions by operation of law insofar as the regulation of leave in respect of the birth of an employee’s child. This is now regulated through section 25A of the Labour Laws, which introduces a new category of leave called parental leave.
In terms of section 25A, an employee, who is a parent of a child, will now be entitled to at least 10 consecutive days parental leave on the birth of the employee’s child or being granted an adoption order by a court is respect of the adoption of a child. It is significant that in terms of section 25A, employees adopting children are now treated the same as those who bear children.
An employee may commence parental leave on
- the day the employee’s child is born; or
- the date-
- that the adoption order is granted; or
- that a child is placed in the care of a prospective adoptive parent by a competent court, pending the finalization of an adoption order in respect of that child,
whichever date occurs first.
Generally, employees are required to notify an employer in writing of their intention to proceed on parental leave at least one month before they do so. Such notification should indicate the exact date they will commence parental leave as well as when they will resume their duties after parental leave. However, in instances an employee is not able to inform the employer as required above, then the employee must inform the employer as soon as it is reasonably practicable to do so.
Perhaps what might ease the challenge of not having an employee at work is the fact that parental leave, like maternity leave, is unpaid. Employees on such leave will apply for benefits and the Unemployment Insurance Act, 63 of 2001.
It is important to note that section 25A cannot be varied by collective agreement and thus qualifying employees will have to be granted leave each time they claim. The National Bargaining Council for the Electrical Industry will soon inform the industry when these provisions will apply in the electrical contracting industry.
Should an employer seek clarity in respect of the parental leave provisions, please contact your nearest ECA office.