Think­ing about hav­ing a baby? Read this.

Phume Mthembu, a can­di­date at­tor­ney at MNS At­tor­neys, ex­plains the ma­ter­nity rights you need to know when plan­ning to ex­tend your fam­ily.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Work / Lessons learnt -

un­der­stand­ing le­gal jar­gon can be like try­ing to un­der­stand a for­eign lan­guage, but it’s im­por­tant to get a grasp of the law espe­cially when it comes to im­por­tant life de­ci­sions like hav­ing a baby.

How are we pro­tected against any form of dis­crim­i­na­tion at work?

We all have the con­sti­tu­tional right not to be dis­crim­i­nated against,” says Phume. The Labour Re­la­tions Act and Em­ploy­ment Eq­uity Act fur­ther pro­hibit any un­fair dis­crim­i­na­tion.

What are my ma­ter­nity rights?

The law pro­tects women against un­fair dis­crim­i­na­tion aris­ing from prej­u­dices like sex­ism. And the corner­stone of ma­ter­nity rights lies in sec­tion 187 (1) (e) of the Labour Re­la­tions Act no. 66 of 1995. Your em­ployer can­not dis­miss you sim­ply be­cause you are preg­nant, in­tend­ing to fall preg­nant or any other rea­son re­lated to preg­nancy. This means that your boss can­not fire you be­cause you are phys­i­cally in­ca­pable of do­ing your job or be­cause you have be­come phys­i­cally in­ca­pable of do­ing your job as a re­sult of your preg­nancy.

How much ma­ter­nity leave am I en­ti­tled to?

De­spite your com­pany’s reser­va­tions, you are en­ti­tled to four con­sec­u­tive months of ma­ter­nity leave as stated in sec­tion 25 of the Ba­sic Con­di­tions of Em­ploy­ment Act (BCEA). The ma­ter­nity leave may be taken at any time from four weeks prior to the ex­pected date of birth – un­less a med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner or a mid­wife ad­vices oth­er­wise – and you may not re­turn to work for six weeks af­ter the birth of your child, un­less a med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner or a mid­wife ad­vices oth­er­wise.

What if I’m un­fairly dis­missed?

If your em­ployer con­tra­venes the Labour Re­la­tions Act, it will re­sult in an un­fair dis­missal. If you bring for­ward this mo­tion then the com­pany bears the onus of prov­ing that a fair rea­son un­re­lated to your preg­nancy ex­isted.

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