What you need to know

This paternity leave will be funded by the UIF applications and be paid to qualifying beneficiaries at a rate of 66% of their earnings/income, subject to a  maximum earnings threshold.

Effectively, the amendments provide that employees that are parents can either have access to ten days of parental leave when a child is born, adopted or where commissioning parental arrangements apply, or up to ten weeks leave.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that sections of South Africa’s new Labour Laws Amendment Act will come into effect from the start of 1st November 2019 which includes new rules around paternity, adopting parents and surrogacy leave.

While some of these regulations are already in place, in a proclamation published on Tuesday (29 October 2019) the presidency said that the sections surrounding parental benefits will be in effect from 1 November 2019.

There are also a number of benefit changes that all employees should be aware of.


According to Michael Yeates, one of the directors at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, employees will be able to apply for the new parental benefits if:

  • They have been registered as the father of the child in terms of the Births and Deaths Registration Act;
  • They are the parent of a child below the age of two in an adoption order;
  • They are the prospective adoptive parent of a child below the age of two (in terms of a court order that placed the child in the care of the prospective adoptive parent, pending the finalisation of the adoption order in respect of that child); or
  • They are the parent of a child who has been born as a result of a surrogate motherhood agreement.

Yeates said that the right to parental benefits is subject to further restrictions that the contributor, who is the parent of a child, should be aware of.

These include:

  • The parental benefit may not be more than the remuneration the contributor would have received if the contributor had not been on parental leave;
  • The maximum period of parental leave is 10 consecutive days;
  • A contributor is not entitled to benefits unless he or she was in employment, whether as a UIF contributor or not, for at least 13 weeks before the date of application for parental benefits.

Application process

The application must be made within 12 months after:

  • The date of childbirth;
  • The date that a competent court grants the adoption order; or
  • The date a child is placed in the care of a prospective adoptive parent by a competent court, pending finalisation of an order in respect of that child.

“The application will be investigated by a claims officer and the claims officer can request more information if necessary regarding the period during which the applicant was not working in order to care for the child,” he said.

“If the application complies with the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act, the claims officer will approve the application, determine the amount of benefits the applicant is entitled to, authorise the payment of benefits and stipulate how benefits are to be paid.

“In the event that the application does not comply, the claims officer must advise the applicant in writing that the application is defective and the reasons why it is defective,” he said.

Parents must use the prescribed application form and the following support documents to submit for a Parental Benefit claim:

  • Identity Document of the applicant;
  • Birth Certificate of the child with full details of parents; and
  • Details of a valid bank account.

Good news for South Africans

Yeates said that the introduction of parental benefits and the mechanisms for their application is an advancement for South Africa.

“Workers need to be informed of the introduction of these benefits in order to exercise these benefits,” he said.

“Although the payment of parental benefits will be paid by the South African Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), employers ought to also consider the effects that the amendment will have on their leave policies and contracts of employment,” he said.


Talking to Employment law expert Anli Bezuidenhout earlier this year, Cape Talk’s Pippa Hudson covered the who, what and why of the Labour Laws Amendment Bill.