October 1, 2019

Maternity leave: Your rights

There’s plenty to keep you busy while you’re preparing for the birth of your baby, but make sure you spend time familiarising yourself with your company’s maternity leave policy while you decorate the nursery and get your baby’s outfits together. 

How much maternity leave are you entitled to? 

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, you’re entitled to at least four consecutive months of maternity leave, which can start four weeks before the expected date of birth, unless your doctor advises you to begin your leave earlier. You can choose to return to work in less than four months, but you cannot go back to work earlier than six weeks, unless your doctor clears it. 

Is maternity leave paid? 

Unfortunately, companies are not obliged to pay you while you’re on maternity leave. Most companies do offer maternity leave benefits, usually consisting of a percentage of your salary, which often increases the longer you’ve been employed there. This is usually accompanied by a stipulation that you cannot resign from the company within a specific period after returning from maternity leave.

You are entitled to UIF, which works out to between 38% and 60% of your average earnings over the previous six months, depending on your income level.

When do you apply for maternity leave?

The earlier you let your employer about your pregnancy, the better, as you’ll be able to work together to find a solution to keep things running smoothly while you’re out the office. According to law, though, you’re only required to inform your employer at least four weeks before you intend starting your maternity leave. You should let them know when you plan on returning at the same time.

Am I guaranteed a job when I get back from maternity leave?

Your employer cannot dismiss you while you’re on maternity leave. 

Are fathers entitled to leave?

Amendments to the Labour Act last year mean that male employees are entitled to ten consecutive days of paternity leave, starting from the day of their child’s birth. 

Do you still get maternity leave if you adopt?

Adoptive parents are entitled to ten weeks’ leave, but only one parent can take it. The other is entitled to ten days’ leave. 

What if something goes wrong?

In the sad event of a miscarriage in the third trimester or a stillbirth, the employee is entitled to six weeks’ leave, regardless of whether or not she has started maternity leave. 

If you need help making sense of your company’s maternity leave policy, drafting a maternity leave policy, or handling any disputes around maternity leave, contact our office on 011 347 0300 or info@lawmen.co.zato make an appointment.

Robin Twaddle & Associates ©2017, All rights reserved. - Disclaimer