Every female worker knows that she’s entitled
to maternity leave. 2 Step guide to maternity leaveWe however realized from the number of queries we receive, that there is still a lot of uncertainty to this process – hence our quick 2-step guide to maternity leave.

Ensuring a relaxing maternity period with your new baby is as easy as understanding the following two phases of the process:

  1. How is maternity leave granted and who qualifies?
  2. How are you compensated during this period?


How is maternity leave granted and who qualifies?

Maternity leave is granted in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which applies to all employers and workers, but not –

  • members of the –
    • National Defense Force,
    • National Intelligence Agency, or
    • South African Secret Service; or
  • unpaid volunteers working for charity.

The section of the Act that regulates working hours does not apply to:

  • workers in senior management
  • sales staff who travel and regulate their own working hours
  • workers who work less than 24 hours in a month
  • workers who earn in excess of an amount stated in terms of  section 6 (3) of the Act
  • workers engaged in emergency work are excluded from certain provisions.

The Basic Condition of Employment applies to all employers and workers and regulates leave, working hours, employment contracts, deductions, payslips, and termination

How many leave days do I qualify for?

Pregnant workers are entitled to at least 4 consecutive months of maternity leave.

When am I allowed to take leave?

Workers may take maternity leave 1 month before their due date, or earlier or later as agreed or required for health reasons.

Workers may not go back to work within 6 weeks after the birth unless their doctor or midwife gives their approval.

How are you compensated during this period?

Depending on your employment contract, you might qualify for paid maternity leave, which means you will still receive your normal salary whilst on maternity leave. Most of the time however, we encounter employees having to go on unpaid maternity leave.

Unpaid leave – who do I claim from?

A worker who is pregnant or nursing may not do work that is unsafe for her or her child.

Workers on maternity leave have the right to claim from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

The Unemployment Insurance Act and Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act apply to all employers and workers, but not to –

  • workers working less than 24 hours a month for an employer;
  • learners;
  • public servants;
  • foreigners working on contract to be repatriated at the end of the contract;
  • workers who get a monthly State (old age) pension; since 07/02/2007, no longer excluded from contributing towards UIF or
  • workers that only earn a commission.

Domestic employers and their workers are included under the Act since 1 April 2003.

Who can claim?

You cannot claim if you –

  • get benefits from –
    • the Compensation Fund for an occupational injury or disease; or
    • any other unemployment fund; or
    • have been suspended from claiming because of fraud.

You can claim if you are on maternity leave.

When must I claim?

Workers must apply as soon as they go on maternity leave.

How long can I claim for?

Workers can claim for 17 weeks.

Workers who miscarry in the third trimester or have a stillborn child can claim for six weeks.

How do I claim?

Workers must fill in the application forms and, together with other required documents, hand them in at a labour centre.

How will I be paid?

Benefit payments will be paid directly into your normal bank account.


No tax is payable on these benefits.



Basic Conditions of Employment Act

Unemployment Insurance Act No. 63 of 2001


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