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Maternity Leave

The Basic conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act is very clear as to the rights of pregnant woman in terms of maternity leave. For your peruse we have included easy reference to the relevant legislation.


Basic Conditions of Employment Act (No. 75 of 1997 ) as amended by the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Act, 2002, Contract Cleaning Wage increase, and  Domestic workers wage increase 1 Dec 2007:

Chapter 3 : Leave

25. Maternity leave

In terms of section 187(1)(e) of the Labour Relations Act, 1995, the dismissal of an employee on account of her pregnancy, intended pregnancy, or any reason related to her pregnancy, is automatically unfair. The definition of dismissal in section 186 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995, includes the refusal to allow an employee to resume work after she has taken maternity leave in terms of any law, collective agreement or her contract.

(1)           An employee is entitled to at least four consecutive months’ maternity leave.

(2)           An employee may commence maternity leave—

(a)          at any time from four weeks before the expected date of birth, unless otherwise agreed; or

(b)          on a date from which a medical practitioner or a midwife certifies that it is necessary for the employee’s health or that of her unborn child.

(3)           No employee may work for six weeks after the birth of her child, unless a medical practitioner or midwife certifies that she is fit to do so.

(4)           An employee who has a miscarriage during the third trimester of pregnancy or bears a stillborn child is entitled to maternity leave for six weeks after the miscarriage or stillbirth, whether or not the employee had commenced maternity leave at the time of the miscarriage or stillbirth.

(5)           An employee must notify an employer in writing, unless the employee is unable to do so, of the date on which the employee intends to—

(a)          commence maternity leave; and

(b)          return to work after maternity leave.

(6)           Notification in terms of subsection (5) must be given—

(a)          at least four weeks before the employee intends to commence maternity leave; or

(b)          if it is not reasonably practicable to do so, as soon as is reasonably practicable.

(7)           The payment of maternity benefits will be determined by the Minister subject to the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1966 (Act No. 30 of 1966). [Sections 34 and 37 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1966 (Act No. 30 of 1996) provide for the payment of maternity leave. Legislative amendments will be proposed to Cabinet to improve these benefits and to provide that the payment to an employee of maternity benefits does not adversely affect her right to unemployment benefits.]

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