All about maternity Leave in South Africa
Maternity leave is the leave period granted to pregnant women, the duration of maternity leave in South Africa leave is usually 4 to 5 months. The duration of paternity leave for the fathers can vary from enterprise to enterprise. However, according to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) with regards to “Family Responsibility Leave”, every worker is allowed 3 days of paid leave to tend to family responsibilities.
Exempt workers include members of the National Defence Force, National Intelligence Agency, the South African Secret Service as well as unpaid volunteers doing charity work. Workers in senior management positions, workers who generate their own hours and those who work less than 24 hours a month, amongst other are also excluded from the act.
Why is maternity leave important?
There are health factors at play when having a baby, from the beginning of the first trimester right through to the ninth month and delivery. For obvious reasons extra care should be taken at the work place if you’re expecting a baby.
There are several health benefits of maternity leave for the mother and child. A study according to MedPages, suggested that women who took maternity leave in their ninth month had less chances of a Caesarean section as opposed to those who worked up until as close to their due date as possible.
As maternity leave benefits the mother and child are there any reasons why maternity leave is good for business?
Maternity leave in South Africa is important because it allows the mother and child the health benefits they need during this crucial time of their lives. Laws also protect employees against discrimination during and after their maternity leave. Companies benefit as the leave will ensure that they don’t lose time with absent workers due to health risks as would occur if there was no leave. Also as mentioned earlier, Caesarean sections mean more hospital time and thus will result in the employer having to pay even more to employ a “substitute” or the work falling behind.
Process of maternity leave
While some companies offer paid maternity leave, others don’t and are not obliged to do so. However, expectant employees can claim from their UIF (Unemployment Fund) to compensate their time off after the birth of their child.
Maternity leave in South Africa can be applied for in the following way:
• Have the necessary documentation needed to apply (ID, bank details, medical certificate from a doctor or child’s birth certificate, follow up form)
• Visit nearest labour centre (in the event the pregnant woman is too ill to do so herself she must arrange that someone else go on her behalf)
• Ensure that the instructions provided by the staff at the labour centre is followed
It’s always better if a company provides maternity leave in South Africa, as it is not only a great benefit to have or to attract great candidates for the job, but a fair and necessary benefit for humans working at a firm.