Fathers request paternity leave
Written by: Pitso Molemane
Are you one of the fathers or mothers who has fallen prey to using the term ‘Paternity Leave’ in referring to the time that fathers take off work at the birth or adoption of a child? Well you will be surprised to know that in South Africa, the term is not formal. This means Paternity Leave is not provided in the country’s Basic Conditions of Employment Act. South African labour laws have only a provision for family responsibility leave for a father when a child is born. As it currently stands dads or fathers are given between one and three days’ family responsibility leave and not paternity leave.
A father from Cape Town started a fight on behalf of all South African fathers of new babies to be given 10 days under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. This challenge has attracted the attention of many non-government organisations including the popular gender activist group Sonke Gender and Justice Network. The organisations have petitioned for 10 days paternity leave in South Africa, and the pressure is now on Government as Parliament is looking into a request to formally introduce Paternity leave into the South African labour laws. Sonke Gender and Justice Network’s Mbuyiselo Botha says the current three days responsibility leave is not enough.
“These three days restrict fathers from spending time with their babies in what we refer to as the important days of life. There is a very critical need for fathers to bond emotionally with their new-born babies”, says Botha.
According to a recent study by South African Race Relations, 47 percent of households are run by females. This means fathers are not in the lives of their children from birth. The departments of labour and social development are championing the request to introduce 10 days of paternity leave. If fathers are given the paternity leave, Botha has urged dads to use the ten day period effectively and responsibly.
“It should not be used for drinking purposes or for abusing alcohol. Fathers must use the paternity leave to change the current title of ATM’s used dads because they just provide money and not emotional support to their babies”, adds Botha.