The Committee met yesterday to deliberate on the amendments in the Bill that was referred to it last year. The Bill seeks to, among other things, provide for parental, adoption and commissioning parental leave to employees. It further provides that employees may claim for parental and commissioning parental benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Parliament's Legal Advisor indicated to Members that changes to the Bill will have an impact on two other provisions in the principal Act which were not initially part of the proposed amendments contained in the Bill.
The first amendment to the principal Act would provide that the benefits a contributor to the Unemployment Insurance Fund is entitled to may not be reduced by the payment of parental, adoption and commissioning parental benefits.
The second amendment to the principal Act would provide that an application for adoption benefits to the Unemployment Insurance Fund may be made within 12 months after the date of an adoption order, or within 12 months after the date that a child is placed in the care of a prospective adoptive parent by a competent court, pending the finalisation of an adoption order, whichever date occurs first.
Members sought clarity on issues such as whether other leave entitlements could be off-set by maternity leave. It was indicated that the Basic Conditions of Employment Act does not permit this.
Committee Member Mr Michael Bagraim said the words "set off" should preferably be removed from the Bill, as they appeared redundant.
"People are entitled to their leave. There is no point to have this [provision in the Bill]. It is not for us to put things in the legislation that do not make any input to the legislation. An employer should be reported to the Department of Labour if they disregard the law," Mr Bagraim said.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Lumka Yengeni, wanted to know if the Bill allowed for a re-application for adoption benefits to a prospective adoptive parent who has previously received adoption benefits on the basis that a child was placed in his or her care, but to whom a final adoption order was refused.
She heard in response that a re-application was allowed, as this entitlement to benefits was linked to each adopted child. An employee can therefore apply for adoption benefits each time he or she adopts a child, or each time a child is placed by the court in his or her care pending the finalisation of an adoption order.
1 December 2016