As the cost of living rises, parents are increasingly forced to juggle their career and time spent with their families. In a bid to redress the limited time that fathers are able to spend with their children, a number of organisation, including Sonke Gender Justice and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) presented a brief on parenting leave to Parliament. With only three days paid family responsibility leave fathers already start off at a disadvantage.
Sonke Gender Justice developed a programme titled ‘Men Care’, which is designed to connect fathers with their children during the beginning stages of childbirth.
Speaking to VOC, Sonke Gender Justice government and media liaison officer Patrick Godana, asserts that three days is not enough leave for fathers to bond with their children.
Godana says that many fathers want to be involved in the upbringing of their children, but are unable to do so due the limited family responsibility leave days that they are permitted.
He adds that the option of taking unpaid leave is not a viable option for fathers, who are often the sole bread winners.
Godana further notes that father and child bonding time is essential in every child’s life.
“Biological and non-biological fathers should be granted ten-days paternity leave,” Gordana added.
He says that ten days should be granted because it would give fathers the opportunity to be present in the event of a Caesarean delivery or where parents whose children have been born prematurely and/or are sick.
According to Godana, fathers are not the only ones complaining about paternity leave allocations, instead mothers are also dissatisfied with their maternity leave allocation.
He says that new mothers feel that four months maternity leave is not ample, because they often find themselves unprepared to return to work.
Godana notes that in many instances they have not fully recovered after giving birth nor have they had sufficient time to bond with their children.
“They have asked for six months leave instead of four months. Parenting is a team effort and men should have the same rights as women when it comes to paternity leave.”
Gordana also adds that he is not sure of the exact date that parliament would be providing feedback with regards to their proposal, but has high hopes that the amended paternity leave would be effective within the next three to four months.
Meanwhile, one father, Henri Terblanche, echoes Godana’s sentiments and says that five days of paternity leave is not enough.
Terblanche asserts that ten days would be more efficient as fathers would be able to assist around the home and assist their partners with adapting to the presence of a new-born.
He adds that there would be less strain on relationships and marriages because partners would be less frustrated overworked.