Even though the national minimum wage (NMW) was not officially implemented on 1 May 2018, it is still likely to happen during the course of this year and businesses should anticipate a few other changes in respect of parental leave and unemployment benefits as well, according to an article by Jan Truter for www.labourwise.co.za.
1. National minimum wage
Once the National Minimum Wage (NMW) Bill, which sets the minimum wage at R20 an hour, is implemented, current wages will have to be adjusted immediately in most business sectors, except in the case of farm/forestry, domestic and expanded public works programme workers, where implementation will be delayed for a further two years.

Important to note is that employers will not be permitted to unilaterally change working hours due to the implementation of the NMW. The way in which remuneration packages are structured will also be restricted in that the NMW excludes allowances paid to employees to enable them to work, such as transport and equipment, or payment in kind, such as accommodation, and also bonuses, tips or food.

Employers will be able to apply for exemption by means of an electronic system, but the regulations are yet to be finalised.

2. New leave categories
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) is expected to soon make provision for three new categories of leave, replacing the current three days’ paid paternity leave. Remuneration will be covered by the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

•    Parental leave
The first category relates to the birth of a child. An employee who is a parent of a child will be entitled to ten consecutive days’ parental leave, which may commence on the day the child is born.

•    Adoption leave
This category relates to the adoption of a child that is below the age of two. Adoptive parents are entitled to ten consecutive days’ leave, commencing on the day that the adoption order is granted.

•    Commissioning parental leave
Relating to surrogate motherhood, the primary commissioning parent will be entitled to commissioning parental leave of ten consecutive weeks. In the case of two surrogate parents, one can take commissioning parental leave and the other normal parental leave of ten consecutive days. In both cases leave can commence on the date of the birth of the child.

For all three categories of leave, the employee will have to give one month’s written notice of the date of the expected date of birth or adoption, as well as when the leave is due to commence and when the employee will return.

3. Unemployment Insurance
The Unemployment Insurance Act (UIA) will be amended to make provision for the payment of employees when they take leave in terms of the new categories mentioned above.

Also, mothers on maternity leave will receive increased benefits – 66% of their earnings, subject to the maximum income threshold. A specific provision has been added that the payment of maternity benefits will not affect the payments of unemployment benefits.

Foreign nationals and employees employed in terms of learnership agreements will also be able to claim benefits.

This article was adapted from the original one written by Jan Truter for www.labourwise.co.za, to whom full acknowledgement is given.

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