The 2019 Amendment enhances maternity leave by:
- increasing the statutory minimum of paid maternity leave (for employees who have been employed for 1 year or more) by 1 week from 12 weeks leave to 13 weeks leave; and
- extending the amount of unpaid leave an employee who has been employed for less than a year is entitled to from 8 weeks to 13 weeks.
The 2019 Amendment also introduces into the Employment Act, for the first time, a statutory entitlement to paternity leave of 5 days (paid, for those employed for a year or more, unpaid for those employed for less than a year). Typically, most employers have policies in place that already afford new fathers some time off, but the 2019 Amendment makes it mandatory that qualifying employees be provided the benefit.
Employers should be reviewing and considering their policies in the face of these upcoming changes. Employers who already grant paternity leave and extra generous maternity provisions will still need to ensure their present policies properly account for the enhanced leave entitlements for employees who may not have qualified before (i.e. 13 weeks unpaid/5 days unpaid for mothers/fathers employed for less than a year).
We recommend seeking advice on policies well in advance of the 2019 Amendment coming into force.
This note is intended as a high level overview of this topic. Legal advice should always be sought on a case by case basis.