Maternity leave a right for every woman

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

Entering the world of motherhood is every woman who wants to start a family's dream.

While this should be a period of happiness, for some women it is distressing because they fear they will lose their jobs while on maternity leave.

Derek Jackson, of the South African Labour Guide, said women should not be worried because the law entitles them to maternity leave.

Jackson said according to the Labour Relations Act women who work full-time are entitled to four months unpaid maternity leave.

"The leave can commence at least four weeks before birth, but it can start earlier if a medical practitioner or midwife motivates for that."

Jackson advised women to report unfair labour practice to the Department of Labour.

Below is a list of your rights and responsibilities while on maternity leave:

l Female employees have a right to maternity leave.

l By law an employer is not obliged to give you paid maternity leave.

l If you have been contributing to the Unemployment Insurance Fund you can claim from the Maternity Benefit Fund.

l Your maternity leave can start any time from four weeks before the expected date of birth.

l You may not work for six weeks after giving birth, unless a doctor declares you fit to work.

l An employer may appoint a temporary employee in the place of an employee who is on maternity leave.

l Employees on maternity leave also need to inform their employers in writing of when they expect to return to work.