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Pregnancy in the Workplace

- Featured article by LAWYERS-ONLINE.CO.ZA

Pregnant women's rights and protections in the workplace

Pregnant women have a wide range of rights and protections in the workplace under South African labour law. Laws are in place ensuring that employers do not unfairly discriminate against employees during or just after preg nancy.

All pregnant women are entitled to four months’ unpaid maternity leave (Section 25 of Basic Conditions of Employment Act) – this is the most fundamental protection under the Act. Workers may take maternity leave 1 month before their due date, or earlier or later as agreed or required for health reasons. Workers may not go back to work within 6 weeks after the birth unless their doctor or mid wife says it is safe. A worker who is pregnant or nursing may not do work that is unsafe for her or her child.

While a woman is nursing a baby, the employer may not ask her to do work that could put her or the child in danger nor can the employer demand that she works a night - shift. He says illness of a new - born baby also entitles the employee to take time off work to look after the child until he or she is well again. If a woman has a miscarriage during the last three months of pregnancy or bears a stillborn child, she's entitled to maternity leave, whether she has started her maternity leave period or not when th is event takes place.

The employer is not obliged to pay the worker her salary while she is on maternity leave – some companies offer a portion of the salary. If your company does offer some paid maternity leave, this information should form part of the employment contract. However, an employee on maternity leave may claim from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) if she has contributed to the fund for more than four months. The fund pays between 30% and 58% of the salary that she earned while she was contributing to the fund. Women on maternity leave may only claim UIF for up to 121 days.

Date: 19th May 2014
Legislation: Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997

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