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How Long Is Maternity Leave In South Africa

If you are a professional expecting a child, it is important to be aware of your rights and know how long is maternity leave in South Africa.

In this article, we will bring information about such rights and answer questions like how many months is maternity leave, do you get paid for maternity leave, dismissal after maternity leave and more.

Keep reading and find out how long is maternity leave in South Africa and other information about your rights!

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How Long Is Maternity Leave In South Africa?

According to South African law, any pregnant employee is entitled to 4 consecutive months of maternity leave, that is, four months which follow one another in uninterrupted succession.

This period of leave may be voluntarily shortened by the pregnant employee, so long as they do not resume working in less than six weeks after the delivery date.

If an employee has a miscarriage during the third trimester of pregnancy or bears a stillborn child, they are entitled to six weeks of maternity leave after the miscarriage or stillbirth, independently of if the employee had already effectively started maternity leave or not.

Does Maternity Leave Include Public Holidays South Africa?

Yes, since the leave period is of up to 4 successive months, maternity leave includes public holidays in South Africa.

When Do You Go On Maternity Leave?

Maternity leave may begin at least a month (four weeks) before the expected date of childbirth. This is to ensure no pregnancy complications arrive due to work obligations that may cause strain or stress on the pregnant employee.

In specific occasions, maternity leave may begin before the last four weeks of pregnancy. This usually happens when the pregnant employee’s medical condition does not allow them to work or makes them vulnerable to developing complications.

Maternity Leave On Private Sector

Maternity leave on the private sector is the same as in the public sector. The difference is that the employer is free to strike a deal with the employee and keep paying them instead of having them rely on a pay cut by having to claim benefits.

Do You Get Paid For Maternity Leave?

According to South African law, maternity leave is unpaid in South Africa. Instead, the employee going on maternity leave is able to claim benefits from the Maternity Benefit Fund through the Department of Employment and labour if they so wish.

The condition to claim benefits is that the employee must have been contributing regularly to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). If so, the employee is eligible for a benefit that varies from 38% up to 60% of their remuneration at work, and the exact percentage depends on their level of income.

Benefits from the Maternity Benefit Fund are paid for up to 121 days, a bit over 17 weeks.

Maternity Leave Application

All that is necessary for an employee to apply for maternity leave is to give notice in writing to their employer about the date when they intend to begin maternity leave and the date when they will return to the job.

Maternity Leave Application Form

There is no need for a maternity leave application form. So long as the employer is notified in writing of when the employee intends to go on maternity leave of absence, there is no official form necessary to communicate it.

However, any employee that wishes to claim benefits from the UIF need to fill the following forms: UI-19, UI 2.7, UI 2.8 and UI 2.9, which can all be found in the website of the Department of Employment and labour.

The applicants must visit any Labour Centre in the country and submit the filled forms along with copies of the Identity Document of the applicant, a birth certificate of the child if they are already born and the details of a valid bank account. Only then can they claim benefits.

Who Qualifies For Maternity Leave?

Any employee who is pregnant qualifies for maternity leave if they fulfill the necessary requisites to go on leave. Those requisites are either entering the last month of pregnancy, miscarrying or delivering a stillborn child.

Dismissal After Maternity Leave

According to the labour Relations Act, employees are protected from dismissals during their maternity leave. After returning, they are also entitled to return to the same position they occupied before their leave.

Resigning After Maternity Leave South Africa

Any employee is allowed to resign after maternity leave in South Africa, just as they would at any time. All that is necessary is to put in their resignation notice in writing at the workplace.

Provided that the employee works their full notice period after the end of their maternity leave, no additional compensation or penalty is afforded to them if they choose to resign this way.