The current legislation around fathers and the birth of their child falls under the ambit of family responsibility leave, which is three days paid leave given on the birth of a child. There is no specific legislation around paternity leave, although there has been some talk of the need for it recently, and in particular, extending it to ten days instead of three. What are the considerations businesses would have to contemplate should this become law?
The BCEA is one of the pieces of labour legislation which has been amended after a long process of public engagement and, with its implementation being imminent; we don’t see any further amendment to the Act coming into effect.
Despite this, it may be something that could be pursued with more and more vigour, and if so there would have to be some business considerations:
How frequently can paternity leave be granted per year?
At the risk of being coarse, it is notionally possible for men to ‘produce’ more than one child per year. Businesses would have to consider the application of paternity leave and whether it should be granted per year or per occasion. Clearly the same concern does not apply to woman. Business would have every reason to be concerned about this in respect of paternity leave.
The cost implications for business
Naturally there will be cost implications of absence due to paternity leave and especially considering the frequency it may be taken. When we speak of cost we don’t refer specifically to an increased tax burden – although this may come. Rather we speak of the cost that the employer will incur as a result of trying to ensure business continuity. Service levels and productivity levels will most certainly be affected.
Increase in tax burden
It is anticipated that what is currently also being contemplated is the possibility of making provision for payment of these fathers while they spend time at home with their children. An increase in the tax burden can be expected.
There will more than likely be a resistance from businesses, should the issue of paternity leave be considered seriously. Having said that, there may be some merit in expecting fathers approaching their employer on an ad hoc basis to request more time than three days per annum for paternity leave.
Related: How do you complain effectively?