ACDP ‘hi­jacked’ pa­ter­nity leave pe­ti­tion

CityPress - - Busi­ness - DE­WALD VAN RENS­BURG de­wald.vrens­burg@city­

The man who launched a cam­paign to have South Africa in­tro­duce 10 days of pa­ter­nity leave says that the re­sult­ing pri­vate mem­ber’s bill is ex­cel­lent, but that the ac­com­pa­ny­ing mem­o­ran­dum leaves out cru­cial de­tails and adds an un­nec­es­sary caveat about gay par­ents.

“It’s a re­ally great, pro­gres­sive bill,” says Hen­dri Terblanche, the Cape Town fa­ther who orig­i­nally lodged a pe­ti­tion with Par­lia­ment to in­tro­duce pa­ter­nity leave into labour law last year.

Terblanche made head­lines with his pe­ti­tion at the time, but it took a year and a half for it to bear fruit as a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill, gazetted last week by African Chris­tian Demo­cratic Party (ACDP) par­lia­men­tary whip Ch­eryl­lyn Dud­ley.

The bill pro­poses a new form of “parental” leave, which would in prac­tice go to the par­ent of a baby that does not get ei­ther ma­ter­nity leave or adop­tion leave.

While it ful­fils the role of pa­ter­nity leave, it would ap­ply equally to gay cou­ples, where one par­ent would get 10 days off and the other would get the adop­tion or ma­ter­nity leave that al­ready ex­ists in law.

The mem­o­ran­dum at­tached to the bill adds a caveat that the ACDP is not in favour of gay cou­ples adopt­ing ba­bies, but that the bill is drafted in line with the Con­sti­tu­tion, which for­bids dis­crim­i­na­tion on the ba­sis of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

“I didn’t like that com­ment,” says Terblanche. “There is no need for it. A child is a child and a par­ent is a par­ent.”

He also says that the mem­o­ran­dum leaves out all men­tion of the ex­ten­sive re­search on the eco­nomic ben­e­fits of pa­ter­nity leave that he pro­vided MPs with.

“The ACDP ba­si­cally hi­jacked it,” he told City Press.

The orig­i­nal pe­ti­tion was not sent to any po­lit­i­cal party, but to all MPs as in­di­vid­u­als, he said.

Terblanche sent his pe­ti­tion to all MPs in June last year af­ter the pre­ma­ture birth and sub­se­quent hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion of his own chil­dren. Be­cause there is no le­gal en­ti­tle­ment to pa­ter­nity leave, he could not be present when his fam­ily needed him.

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