The past 3 years have seen several bills introduced in parliament in a bid to make changes to the Employment Act. So far, only the instant Act discussed herein has seen the light of day.
Why the Employment (Amendment) Act, 2021?
What is new?
When can the leave be taken?
Should the employee give notice before taking leave?
Is there any documentation required to support leave?
Any other rights of the employee that an employer needs to be aware of regarding pre-adoptive leave?
The President assented to the Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on 30 March 2021. The Employment (Amendment) Act, 2021 (the “Act”) was set to take effect on 15 April 2021.
The main purpose of the Act is to amend the Employment Act, 2007 to afford pre-adoptive leave to parents who apply for the adoption of children who are not their natural children by birth. The leave is meant to afford the adopting employee an opportunity to bond with and understand their new child.
The Act has introduced a Section 29A immediately after section 29 of the Employment Act (the Section relating to Maternity Leave). According to the new section, an employee who intends to adopt a child is entitled to one (1) month’s pre-adoptive leave with full pay.
It is important to note that the leave is to be effective from the date that the child is placed in the care of the employee. According to the Children Act, a child who is to be adopted must first be placed in the continuous care and control of the applicant (in this case, the adopting employee) for a period of three (3) consecutive months preceding the filing of the application for adoption. It is during this period that both the applicant and the child are evaluated and assessed by an adoption society.
An employee for the pre-adoptive leave must notify the employer in writing of the intention of the adoption society to place the child in the custody of the employee, at least fourteen (14) days before the placement of the child.
This notice is to be accompanied by documentation evidencing the intention of the adoption society to place the child in the custody of the employee. The documentation includes a custody agreement and an exit certificate (that is, a written authority from the adoption society to a prospective adoptive parent to take the child from the custody of the adoptive society).
It should also be noted that: