Maternity leave is governed by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Sections 25 & 26.
An employee is entitled to 4 months maternity leave which constitutes 4 weeks prior to the birth of the child and 3 months thereafter. Payment for this period is not an employer’s responsibility as such is claimed from UIF. However a Company must ensure that its Company Policies and Procedures are adhered to as many institutions may have a policy stating that whilst on maternity leave they will pay the full salary or part thereof. Consistency is vital. An employer is also required to consider the nature of a pregnant woman’s work during pregnancy and for six months thereafter. At all times the Health and Safety requirements must be adhered to.
Dismissal of a pregnant employee leaves the Company open to a case being referred to the Labour Court which may result in a large monetary compensation being awarded to the employee. Discrimination and Automatic Unfair Dismissals can be financially crippling. Be cautious!