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New Parents Now Able To Share Leave Reserved For Mothers, Court Rules

The High Court in Johannesburg has ruled that new parents should be able to share the four months’ leave that has, up until now, been reserved for mothers.

This on the back of a challenge to the country’s labour laws, which a Limpopo couple launched last year.

They argued that provisions in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which give mothers four months’ maternity leave and fathers just ten days off after the birth of a child, were discriminatory In a ruling handed down on Wednesday, Gauteng Deputy Judge President Roland Sutherland agreed.

In his ruling, Judge Sutherland said a father who chose to share in this experience could complain that the absence of recognition in the act was “unfair discrimination”, and similarly that a mother could complain it wasn’t for the legislature to decide she should assume the role of primary caregiver.

He also found the act discriminated against parents on the basis of whether their children were born of their mother or via surrogacy, or were adopted.

He’s given Parliament two years to bring the legislation up to scratch. In the interim, he’s effected a reading which provides that “all parents of whatever stripe” should enjoy four consecutive months’ parental leave collectively.

The ruling does still have to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court, though.