Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Labour to meet on maternity, adoption and paternity leave

Cape Town On Thursday 22 September 2016, the Portfolio Committee of Labour will hear oral submissions from Sonke Gender Justice (Sonke), Mosaic Women’s Centre Training, Service & Healing Centre for Women (Mosaic) and others on the Labour Laws Amendment Bill.

The Bill proposes that fathers receive 10 days of paternity leave at the birth of their child, and suggests provisions on leave for adoptive parents.

Sonke and Mosaic endorse the general intent of the bill, but have submitted improvements, based on international evidence of best practices in paid leave policy. These will expand paid parenting leave to include same-sex, adoptive, and/or male parents.

What: Portfolio Committee meeting on Labour Laws Amendment Bill
When: 22 September at 9am
Where: Parliamentary Precinct, Cape Town

“If men are more involved in parenting, women can spend more time in economic employment. This amendment therefore provides a valuable opportunity for women to regain access to the workplace.”
— Andre Lewaks, MenCare South Africa Manager, Sonke Gender Justice

“The legislative inclusion of parental leave for all parents will increase the care available to children and contribute towards the equitable division of unpaid care work, transforming the current gendered nature of such work. This amendment and the improvements proposed will also contribute to gender equality in the workplace.”
— Kerryn Rehse, Policy Advocacy Coordinator, Mosaic 

The four improvements Sonke and Mosaic suggest are:

1. Same-sex parents do not have specific legislation that provides for paid leave for two fathers or two mothers. Therefore same-sex marriage is provided for in South African legislation but not same-sex parenting. We suggest a non-gender specific allocation of paid leave to ‘parents’ and ‘caregivers’ as opposed to ‘mothers’ or ‘fathers’.

2. Maternity leave is currently available up to 4 months. We suggest that the minimum amount of leave made available for primary caregivers be increased to 6 months, to allow for the World Health Organisation’s recommended minimum period of exclusive breastfeeding.

3. Adoptive parents do not have access to paid parenting leave. We suggest adoptive parents should be able to access paid parenting leave from the time of placement of the child.

4. Mothers who deliver currently do not have provisions that allow for their partner to support them during delivery and recovery. The minimum period for recovery from a C-section is 10 days. We suggest a minimum of 10 days perinatal leave for all new parents. This would enable mothers to deliver and recover, and their partners to share the care work.

Media contacts:

Wessel van den Berg
Child Rights and Positive Parenting Manager
Sonke Gender Justice
Tel: 082 686 7425

Kerryn Rehse
Policy Advocacy Coordinator
Tel: 084 515 5961

Patrick Godana
Government and Media Liaison
Sonke Gender Justice
Tel: 073 233 4560

Information on the submission is available at:

Information on the Labour Laws Amendment Bill is available at: 

For Twitter updates follow @sonketogether, @mosaicwcape