Worklaw Discussion ForumDiscussion Topic:
When does a person become a life partner? Is there a time frame stipulated in law or a guide line from the case law? - Derrick Buthelezi
Worklaw Response:The BCEA refers to an employee's entitlement to family responsibility leave in s27 in the event of the death of a "life partner", without defining what this is. We are not aware of any cases dealing with this. The Labour Laws Amendment Bill, a new piece of legislation seeking to introduce gender neutral parental leave in cases of birth, adoption and commissioning parents in a surrogacy situation, makes no mention of a "life partner".
It is interesting to refer to the SA Immigration Authorities' approach in dealing with applications for a life partner permit by those individuals who are in a permanent relationship with a South African citizen or permanent residence holder. Life partner permits do not discriminate between hetro-sexual or same sex couples and the requirements and process are identical. The Immigration Authorities apparently require a 5 year cohabitation period and define a life partner relationship as follows:
"Such relationship must be intended to be permanent, exclude any other person and involve cohabitation, an obligation of mutual emotional support between the parties and a reciprocal obligation to support one another financially in circumstances where the one has the means to do so and the other requires such support to maintain, without recourse to public funds, his or her financial and social standing and standard of living."
We can see no reason why an employer could not adopt a policy that incorporates a similar approach to who can be regarded as a life partner.