The reconciliation of work and care : a comparative analysis of South African Labour Laws aimed at providing working parents with time off to care.
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The purpose of this thesis is to examine the adequacy of South African labour laws which regulate the rights of employees to take time off from work to attend to care-giving responsibilities. It engages in a comparative analysis between South African labour laws, international and regional labour standards, and the laws of the United Kingdom which govern the reconciliation of work and care. Work–care reconciliation can be achieved through the reorganisation of work to account for family interests and responsibilities. Labour laws must be used to restructure working times through the incorporation of family-friendly policies, with particular emphasis on statutory leave provisions. As such, the reconciliation of work and care requires the statutory recognition of time off from work for employees to attend to their family responsibilities. This thesis relies on labour standards set out by international and regional organisations as indications of minimum standards which should exist within a comprehensive legislative package aimed at the reconciliation of work and care. These minimum standards have been identified as maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity leave, parental leave, emergency care leave, and flexible working arrangements. Maternity leave should be comprised of a period of leave over the pregnancy, childbirth, and postnatal care of the child; benefits in the form of cash for the period of maternity leave; health protection at work during pregnancy and the period of breastfeeding; employment protection which provides security of employment and the right to return to work after maternity leave, as well as protection against discrimination based on maternity; and periods of breastfeeding breaks available to employees at the workplace. South African labour laws provide employees with rights to maternity leave and family responsibility leave. Section 25 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 provides pregnant employees with four consecutive months of maternity leave. Section 27 provides employees with family responsibility leave, available for the duration of three days to both men and women for the general purpose of caring for a family member. By examining the scope, duration, qualifications, and affordability of maternity leave and family responsibility leave, this thesis will seek to ascertain whether these leave entitlements have limitations in their capacities to accommodate employees with care-giving responsibilities. The laws of the United Kingdom are relied on as a comparative foreign legal system which has made numerous policy initiatives and legal reforms within the area of the reconciliation of work and care. Fuelled by a political agenda, the commitment of the government of the United Kingdom towards family-friendly legislative rights has led to the adoption of an inclusive and comprehensive statutory package aimed at the reconciliation of work and care. These statutory provisions are set out and examined with the objective of providing insight to the measures which are necessary to ensure the adequacy of South African labour legislation aimed at the reconciliation of work and care. The comparative analyses of international and regional labour standards, together with the laws of the United Kingdom, lead to a series of recommendations in the form of amendments to current labour legislation and the introduction of new legislative provisions. This thesis concludes with proposals aimed at ensuring that employees with care-giving responsibilities are provided with options of leave entitlements which accommodate their individual needs according to affordability and family structure. As such, it calls for legislative reform in the labour laws of South Africa to provide employees with a comprehensive legislative package aimed at the reconciliation of work and care.