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Baby on the way? Parenting, pregnancy and your rights at work

702 logo702 2018-09-12 Qama Qukula
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When is the right time to tell your boss that you're expecting?

Pregnant employees are required by law to give their employers reasonable notice before taking maternity leave, says employment lawyer Sherisa Rajah.

"You're required to tell your employer as soon as you are reasonably aware of your pregnancy," said Rajah, labour attorney and partner at Fasken law firm."

"You must notify your employer in writing on when you want to commence your leave, and when you want to return from leave. You should give at least four weeks notice prior to when you want to start."

Further, "an employer can never take away what's accrued to you in law".

"The Employment Equity Act says you cannot be unfairly discriminated against, directly or indirectly, on the grounds of pregnancy."

Also read: It’s possible (and dangerous) to be over-inclusive

On maternity leave

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Female employees have the right to four months maternity leave when they are pregnant.

This period of leave may begin up to six weeks before the baby is due.

The employer is not legally obliged to give paid maternity leave.

However, those who contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) can claim a portion of their salary from the Maternity Benefit Fund.

In addition, employees who have given birth are not allowed to return to work until six weeks after the child is born.

Employees who have a miscarriage are entitled to six weeks leave after the loss of the child. This includes stillbirth.

"When it comes to maternity leave, there's a distinction between people who have delivered a child and people who have had a miscarriage," said Rajah.

Also read: Here's what's still holding working women back in 2018

She says employers need to figure out more flexible working arrangements for employees who are parents.

New laws in South Africa will soon recognise an employee's right to parental leave, adoption leave and surrogacy leave parallel to maternity leave, Rajah explains.

She discusses forward-thinking maternity leave policies and how the workplace can adapt.

Listen to the discussion during The Eusebius McKaiser Show:

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