Lessons on Parental Leave: A Comparative Analysis of Parental Leave in South Africa and the United Kingdom


  • Asheelia Behari




Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997, parental leave, United Kingdom, parental responsibility, shared parental leave, maternity leave


Recent amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 have resulted in the introduction of parental leave. This provides employees with 10 consecutive days of time off from work to care for their newborn babies and may commence from the day of the birth. The right to parental leave has the additional benefit of impacting gendered social assumptions that place women in the primary role of caregiver and a secondary role as worker. With the rise in the labour participation of women, there has been an increase in the need for the involvement of men in the caregiving and upbringing of children in the home. Although parental leave applies to men and women, it has been enacted with the objective of encouraging working fathers to participate as caregivers and to share in the burden of care placed on new mothers to care for themselves and their newborn babies during maternity leave. This article considers the effects of parental leave as a recent addition to South African law by conducting a comparative analysis with the long-established parental leave models of the United Kingdom. These include the right to parental leave that is applicable to a parent who has parental responsibility for a child, and a right to shared parental leave, which allows the mother of the child to share her maternity leave with the other parent of the child. The parental leave rights of the United Kingdom have been developed to provide employees with choice and flexibility to accommodate their caregiving responsibilities, and may indicate a trajectory for the progression of the newly enacted right to parental leave in South Africa.


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How to Cite

Asheelia Behari. (2021). Lessons on Parental Leave: A Comparative Analysis of Parental Leave in South Africa and the United Kingdom. Obiter, 41(4), 787–805. https://doi.org/10.17159/obiter.v41i4.10488