Maternity leave in South Africa is essential for all pregnant working women. It improves the maternal-infant physical health and well-being. The earliest you can start a maternity leave is usually four weeks before the expected date of birth. Women usually take maternity leaves a week or two before their due dates to avoid the stress of going into labour at work and to prepare for the delivery process.
You should prepare your colleagues and employer when you are ready to take a maternity leave. Some women begin their leave a few weeks before giving birth while others wait till the last moment so they can spend more time with their babies. If you go into labour early, your maternity leave will begin from that date.
Things about maternity leave in South Africa you should know
If you are a first-time mum, talk to friends and family about their maternity leave experience, especially if their profession is similar to yours. You ca also seek advice from colleagues who have taken maternity leave before. Below are essential things you should know about the maternity leave for contract workers in South Africa :
1. What is a maternity leave?
Is is the time a mother stops working to have and take care of her newborn baby. It also includes cases of adoption where the child is below two years old. Some refer it to as family leave, pregnancy leave, or parental leave, since it may include paternity leave and adoptive mothers.
By law, you are entitled to a maternity leave which legally binds your workplace to have an official maternity leave policy. Unfortunately, it may be unpaid or partially paid; but there are several other maternity benefits that you can get.
2. How long is maternity leave in South Africa?
According to Section 25 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, a birth mother is entitled to up to 4 consecutive months of unpaid maternity leave annually. You can only reduce it if a doctor certifies that you can return to work earlier.
3. How soon should I apply for it?
Since workers may take family leave 1 month before their due date, it is wise to apply for it well before then. This is because there may be unforeseen circumstances requiring you to leave earlier or later than the stipulated 1 month. The earlier you give your notice, the better prepared your workplace will be for a seamless transition during your absence.
Under the Amended Act, an application for maternity benefits must be made with the specified forms at an employment office or Labour Center at any time before or after childbirth, as soon as your maternity leave begins. This only works if the application is made within a period of 12 months after the date of childbirth.
4. How much do you get paid during maternity leave?
By law, an employee not contributing to UIF is not entitled to a paid maternity leave in South Africa. Your employer is only obligated to pay you as per your employment agreement and company policy. However, you are eligible for certain benefits.
A worker, contributing to UIF, is eligible for a maternity benefits for 17.32 weeks. UIF will pay you 38% to 60% of average earnings in the last six months, depending on the insured person's level of income.
In the event of a m*iscarriage in the third trimester or birth of a stillborn child, you are still entitled to six weeks of maternity benefit. These benefits are paid under the Unemployment Insurance Act.
5. Is my job secure while I am away?
You cannot lose your job while on a maternity leave. Should your employer dismiss you during this period, the court can rule it unfair dismissal for reasons related to pregnancy. Such dismissals can be very expensive to employers since they have to award a huge compensation.
6. Is the father entitled to a similar leave from work?
According to the Labour, Amendment Act passed in 2018, working South African dads are entitled to 10 working days of paid paternity leave after the birth of their child. Also, for fathers who are the primary caregivers of adopted children under the age of two, they are eligible for a ten-week paid leave once the adoption order is granted.
7. What if I am adopting?
When adopting or taking in a child from foster care, you may be eligible for this leave within one year of welcoming the new child. The Labour Amendment Act guarantees ten weeks of adoption leave if the baby is under two years, but only to one parent. The other parent is eligible for parental leave.
8. Do you get paid when you go on maternity leave?
A full-time employed South African female contributing to the UIF is eligible for UIF maternity benefits. Foreigners working on contract, learners, workers earning commissions only, and public servants are not eligible for this.
When applying for the UIF maternity benefits, you must carry relevant documents such as your National Identity Card or Passport and filled out application forms containing your banking details and medical information. Getting your full salary during maternity leave will affect your UIF benefits because your wages will reflect in your banking statements.
9. How can I claim UIF maternity benefits?
It is as simple as getting the necessary documents ready and going to the nearest Labour Center to fill out a claims form. There is no deductible tax from your UIF monthly payments during this period. You need these documents to file for a UIF claim:
- 13 digit bar coded ID or passport
- Form UI-2.3 – Maternity benefits Application form
- Form UI-2.7 - Leave income form
- Form UI-2.8 - Banking details form
- Medical certificate from a doctor or a birth certificate of the baby
- Form UI-4 - Follow up form for continued payments after the initial claim has been approved.
You can apply for these benefits as soon as you go for maternity leave. Apply for UIF maternity benefits at the Department of Labour website. You can also get the UIF claim forms from the same website. Fill them them out, and hand them over to the Labour Center to file a claim.
The UIF payment duration is up to 17 weeks. Therefore, claim these benefits within that period. In the event of a m*iscarriage in the third trimester or deliver a stillborn child, you can claim UIF maternity benefits for up to six weeks.
Also, it is important to note that the amount you will receive as a maternity benefit will not exceed the normal wages you received before your pregnancy leave. If you decide not to go back to work, you may have to pay back a portion of your UIF benefits according to your employment contract in some cases.
10. When do I have to go back to work?
Legally, you are permitted to take time off work for six full weeks after giving birth. You can only resume earlier if the doctor approves. You choose to resume work earlier or work part-time during this period.
It is completely up to you to extend your maternity leave using sick days, vacation, or paid time-off periods you accumulated prior to this. When you or the child gets sick, you are entitled to compassionate leave days of 30 to 36 days within a 36-month period.
How many months is maternity leave in South Africa?
Female employee are legally entitled to annual unpaid maternity leave of up to 4 months consecutively.
How many days is maternity leave in South Africa?
You should take up to 4 months consecutively off work as maternity leave. Since some months have less days that others, you can talk to your HR about the number of days you should be on leave.
How does maternity leave work in South Africa?
Below are facts about maternity leave in South Africa:
- The maternity leave can begin at anytime from at least four weeks before the birth of the baby.
- You can take a maternity leave when adopting or taking in a child from foster care.
- South African dads are entitled to 10 working days of paid paternity leave after a child's birth.
- You are not entitled to a paid maternal leave in South Africa.
- A maternity leave for contract workers in South Africa should last up to 4 consecutive months.
- A full-time employed female in South African with UIF contributions qualifies for the UIF maternity benefits.
- Foreigners working on contract, learners, workers earning commissions only, and public servants do not qualify for UIF maternity benefits.
- You can apply for UIF benefits as soon as you go for maternity leave.
- You can accumulate your sick days, vacation, or paid time-off periods and use them during your maternity leave as time extensions.
- You can claim UIF maternity benefits for up to six weeks if you m*iscarry in the third trimester or deliver a stillborn child.
When does maternity leave start in South Africa?
An employee can start a maternity leave any time from four weeks before the expected delivery birth, unless otherwise agreed. You can also begin on the date a medical practitioner or midwife certified is necessary for your health or that of the unborn child.
Discuss with your HR department before starting on your maternity leave in South Africa. If you’re dealing with symptoms like lack of sleep, back pain, heartburn, etc., you can start your leave early. On the other hand, if your pregnancy feels easy, you can work until your preferred date.
Briefly.co.za shared types of leave in South Africa you are entitled to. A work leave promotes physical and mental health in the workplace.
You should take it to improve the quality of your work-life. You will get to recharge and return to work with a much clear head.
Source: Briefly News