When it comes to maternity leave in South Africa, very few women know what they are entitled to. This, of course, is a problem, because if you don’t know your rights, you can be taken advantage of. There are some important questions that are frequently asked, and here we provide some answers that may be helpful.

1.  When am I allowed to claim maternity leave in South Africa?

When you become pregnant, you are entitled to a total of four consecutive months off from work before and after giving birth. This entitlement starts at four weeks before the birth of the child and can be commenced at any time during these four weeks. If there is a medical condition during pregnancy that prevents you from working, you are allowed to take maternity leave earlier, given medical certificates and recommendations. You will then have to return to work four months after the commencement of the maternity leave, but you may start to work again six weeks after the birth. You will only be allowed to start working again earlier if it is certified by a medical professional that you are indeed well enough to work.

2.  Do I get paid during maternity leave?

In South Africa, employers are not obliged to pay your salary while you are on maternity leave, but you are entitled to claim UIF – but only if you have been contributing to UIF. The amount you get paid will vary between 38% and 60% of your normal salary. You may only claim UIF for around 17 weeks, which is 121 days. If you should suffer a miscarriage during the last three months of the pregnancy or the baby is stillborn, you are entitled to claim benefits for up to six weeks after the event.

3.  How do I claim benefits through UIF?

You have to visit your local Labour Office to set up a claim. The following documents will be needed: Your barcoded ID book or ID card, banking details, and a doctor’s certificate. If you cannot go in person, it is possible to send a representative to the Labour Offices to set up the claim in your stead.

4.  Can I lose my job while I’m on maternity leave?

According to South Africa’s labour law, it is illegal for your employer to dismiss you during your maternity leave. It is also illegal for an employer to dismiss you because you are pregnant or if you are trying to get pregnant.

5.  Will I get the same job back when I return to work?

You are indeed entitled to the same position when you return to work.

6. If I adopt a baby, will I be entitled to take maternity leave in South Africa?

Yes, and you can claim UIF benefits when you adopt a child. You can also do so for up to four consecutive months.

If you would like to find out more about the legalities regarding maternity leave in South Africa, please feel free to contact our team at CHA Group.