SGJ: Men should get 10 days' paternity leave

Johannesburg - Men should be provided with 10 days' paternity leave, non-profit organisation Sonke Gender Justice (SGJ) said on Thursday.

The non-profit organisation came out in support of financial manager Hendri Terblanche launching the 10-day paternity leave campaign, eight months after his twin children were born three months premature.

His petition was submitted to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), and officially received and acknowledged by NCOP chairperson Thandi Modise two weeks ago.

Section 27 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act only provided for three days of family responsibility leave for employees.

The Unemployment Insurance Act protected mothers from losing their salary for up to four months at the time their child’s birth.

Terblanche’s petition proposed an additional 10 days paternity leave for fathers.

SGJ said having only three days of family responsibility leave and no paternity leave restricted fathers from spending time with their children in their first days of life.

It also restricted them from forming a bond with their newborns, supporting their partners, and assisting with childcare duties.

This was even more challenging where medical complications occurred, including Caesarean births, common in South Africa with the mother and child often in hospital for up to a week and sometimes longer.

"Terblanche single-handedly approached every member of Parliament and urged them to draft a bill for consideration by the National Assembly," SGJ said.

He also mounted a Twitter campaign under @DadToBeAdvice using the hashtag #10DaysPaternityLeave.

"The department of labour and the department of social development are mandated in the White Paper on Families in South Africa (2013) to explore the feasibility of paternity leave," SGJ said.

SGJ mencare manager in South Africa Andre Lewaks said men were held accountable for parenting responsibilities or child support when parents were separated.

It was therefore important to create more opportunities for men to be involved in care work.

"Paternity leave is one step towards this that is still lacking in our leave framework," he said.

SGJ said South Africa would not be the first country in Africa to establish paternity leave, as Kenya already offered fathers 14 days, Cameroon 10 days, and Ghana five days.

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