Maternity Leave – What You Need To Know

All female employees have the right to maternity leave by law. In terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCE) maternity is regulated.






In terms of the BCE, women have a right to four consecutive months’ maternity leave when pregnant. Employers are however not obligated to provide employees with paid maternity leave although some organisations provide maternity leave policies.

Maternity leave may begin at any time at least four weeks before the birth of the baby; unless the mother’s medical condition does not allow her to work. Six weeks leave has to be taken after confinement and a mother may return to work earlier if a medical practitioner or midwife certifies that she is fit to return.

It is also worth noting that maternity leave cannot be reduced by a contractual agreement with the employer, and the woman remains entitled to her full four consecutive months of leave.


Employer & Employee

The woman is obliged to provide the employer with four weeks’ written notice of her intention to take maternity leave. It is recommended to contact your HR (Human Resources) department to ensure you are aware of your companies HR policies.

It is your manager’s responsibility to redistribute and delegate your tasks to your colleagues or appoint a temporary replacement.

As already indicated, your employer is not obligated to pay you while on maternity leave, if you have however been contributing to UIF (the Unemployment Insurance Fund), you will be entitled to claim from them.

After returning from maternity leave, the woman is entitled to return to her job which she left before going on leave. An employer may not dismiss an employee for any reason related to her pregnancy.


New ‘Parental Leave’ Bill

A new Bill was passed in Parliament on the 28th of November 2017 which provides for up to two weeks paternity leave for fathers, parents via adoption and surrogacy could be entitled for up to ten weeks of parental leave, and family responsibility leave for fathers may fall away.

It is important to note that at the time of writing, this Bill is not yet law and needs to be referred to the National Council of Provinces for approval, if passed there, it will be referred to the President of the Republic to sign it into law.


Final Word

If yourself or a partner has any issues with their employer or maternity leave related issues, please feel free to contact us for advice.