How long is maternity leave in South Africa

One of the world’s most amazing experiences is expecting a child. However, there are actual difficulties you must overcome, one of which is organizing your job administration and getting ready for your maternity leave. Employers and employees both are growing more interested in the subject of maternity leave. Not just expectant mothers are interested. A company’s maternity leave policy or benefits are frequently cited by new workers who are trying to make family plans as a justification for joining. Even those who do not foresee the need for maternity leave have a more favorable opinion of businesses that value their workers’ families.

What is maternity leave?

Maternity leave is the duration a mother takes off from work after giving birth to a child. The employer should anticipate requests for time off when an employee is pregnant. If the woman desires it or experiences issues during pregnancy, maternity leave may begin prior to the baby’s birth otherwise, it may commence after the baby is delivered. Maternity absence can complicate matters for small to medium-sized firms as well. It can be challenging to cover workload and shifts, but more and more businesses are realizing the value of offering maternity leave benefits that are as substantial as they can afford.

Is maternity leave paid leave?

The Expecting Employee is entitled to at least four consecutive months of unpaid maternity leave under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) (Section 25) but some employees take it as paid leave depending on the employee’s work contract. The law states that maternity leave must start no later than four weeks before the anticipated day of the child’s delivery. If the employee has a medical certificate from her doctor or midwife stating that she is fit to resume work before the six-week waiting period has passed since the date of birth, she may return to work during that time.

Regardless of whether maternity leave had already started at the time of the miscarriage or stillbirth, an employee who has a miscarriage in the third trimester of pregnancy or gives birth to a stillborn child is entitled to six weeks of paid leave. The employee must notify the employer in writing of both the date she expects to leave on maternity leave and the date she plans to return to work. For her to return following the birth of her kid, the employer must keep her job (or a comparable role).

As the employee is eligible for unemployment benefits, the employer is not required to pay the employee while she is on maternity leave. Nothing, however, prevents the employer from compensating the worker, so long as this payment is disclosed on the UI-19 form that is completed when the worker begins her maternity leave. Given that discrimination based on pregnancy is thought to be legal, the employer who treats the employee unfairly runs the possibility of having to defend their actions in front of the Labour Courts.

If you have been making UIF contributions, you may be eligible for a maternity benefit of up to 60% of your pay (the lowest amount of replacement income is 38% depending on your income level). Benefit payments last for a maximum of 17.32 weeks (121 days).


How much notice should I give?

Maternity leave generally requires four weeks’ written notice to the employer, which should include the start and end dates of the absence. Give them time to make plans for what will happen with your workload while you are away, the earlier you give them notice, the better. It’s best to negotiate maternity leave policies with your HR team before they come into effect. Although it is your manager’s obligation to distribute your work to other employees, it would be helpful if you could offer some suggestions for how it might be done.

Can I be dismissed whilst I’m on maternity leave?

It is against the law to dismiss a worker for getting pregnant (or planning to get pregnant) or going on maternity leave. If an employer does not permit an employee to return to work following her maternity leave, the law deems that to be an unjust dismissal. If the employee had not been on maternity leave, it may have been the case that the position was no longer required; but, in this situation, the company is required to make every effort to provide an alternative position.

Extract from the Basic Conditions of Employment Act:

Maternity leave

(1) An employee is entitled to at least four consecutive months of 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 stillborn, whether or not the employee had commenced maternity leave at the time of the miscarriage or stillborn.

(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).

Do males get maternity leave?

The new parental leave regulations in South Africa went into effect on 1 January 2020, and it has been warmly received. All parents, including dads, adoptive parents, and surrogates, now have the right to ten days of unpaid leave after the birth of their children under the new legislation.

Even while the new law has received a lot of positive attention, there is still some uncertainty about what it will mean for individuals who will be impacted. Beginning with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), the Labour Laws Amendment Act included three additional leave categories: parental leave (for fathers), adoption leave, and commissioning parental leave.

Regardless of the parent’s gender, an employee who is a parent of a child is entitled to 10 consecutive days of parental leave. The 10-day parental leave period is divided into calendar days rather than working days. The four-month maternity leave requirement is still governed by the present laws. The Labour Amendment Act also includes provisions for higher UIF and maternity benefits, 10 weeks of parental adoption leave (applicable to only one parent if the child is under the age of two), and surrogacy leave.

Advantages of paternity leave

A recent study by McKinsey & Company details different approaches to making paternity leave more appealing as well as the advantages of paternity leave for both families and employers. In-depth interviews with 130 new fathers and their spouses were conducted for this study in ten different nations. Although heterosexual fathers were the focus of this study, the authors point out that many other types of families can gain from parental leave. The implications of this study’s conclusions are universal. The availability of paternity leave is increasing as more nations and businesses provide benefits to new fathers.

Strengthened partnerships

According to the authors, 90 percent of the males surveyed said their relationships with their partners had improved. Partners reported positive effects on their relationship that were more about their partner’s presence to offer emotional support and share childcare during the early days of newborn care than how they divided up domestic chores. The authors point out that additional studies support their finding that paternal leave contributes to more stable relationships and fewer cases of postpartum depression in mothers.

Shaped family dynamics

Research shows early father involvement in parenting through the use of paternity leave laid the groundwork for a more equitable division of duties throughout the years of childrearing.

Bonding with their child

Nearly half of fathers express discontent with the amount of time they spend with their kids, according to the study’s authors. Contrarily, research shows that extended paternal leave durations lead to closer father-child relationships and more frequent father involvement in childcare and developmental tasks.

Financial benefits for families

The authors point out that paternity leave can help working mothers compete on an even playing field and close the gender pay gap. The long-term financial stability of the family improves when mothers are able to increase their wages in the short term by continuing to work.

Increased happiness and fulfillment

Based on this study, many men who took paternity leave felt more productive, energized, and inspired to stick with their employers.

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