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

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.

Sherisa Rajah, Labour attorney and partner at Fasken law firm

An employer can never take away what's accrued to you in law.

Sherisa Rajah, Labour attorney and partner at Fasken law firm

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

Sherisa Rajah, Labour attorney and partner at Fasken law firm

ON MATERNITY LEAVE

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.

Sherisa 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.

Sherisa Rajah, Labour attorney and partner at Fasken law firm

Read: Fathers on the realities of being stay-at-home dads

Also read: Bill to be passed granting fathers 10 days paternity leave

Rajah 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, she explains.

The expert 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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