Maternity Leave in SA: What to expect

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Maternity Leave in SA: What to expect

So you’re expecting your bundle of joy which is exciting but it can also be an anxious time. This is especially true if you’re not sure what to expect when you go on maternity leave. You might be wondering if you’ll still get paid or is your job secure for your return from maternity leave? These are all normal questions to be asking. We did some research for you which should help you better understand and manage expectations while you’re on maternity leave.


Maternity Leave in SA: What to expect

In accordance with the South African labour law, moms are entitled to four months unpaid maternity leave. This means that you are entitled to take the full four months leave if required. Only you can decide if you want to shorten your maternity leave to less than four months, as long as it is not less than six weeks from the delivery date.

You can take the leave anytime from four weeks prior to the due date and you may not return to work within six weeks of the delivery date. This is true for any type of work you do (work-from-home included) unless you work less than 24 hours a month. See the extract from the Basic Conditions of Employment Act below. If you are considering going back to work in less than four months, always remember that this is time with your baby that you cannot get back. The onus is on the employer to put measures in place to carry the workload while you are on maternity leave. So always remind your employer that he/she can hire a skilled part-timer from RecruitMyMom to assist while you are away. We frequently have maternity fill in positions, so you are in good hands.

In South Africa, the parental leave period has recently increased from three days to ten days. Which means that dad’s and adopting parents get to spend more time with their newborns. 

READ: Parental, Adoption And Commissioning Parental Leave

If you have been contributing to UIF, you are eligible for a maternity benefit of up to a maximum amount of 60% of your remuneration (lowest amount of replacement income is 38%) depending on the level of your income. Benefits are paid for a maximum duration of 17.32 weeks (121 days). 

Extract from the Basic Conditions of Employment Act:

Maternity leave

(1) An employee is entitled to at least four consecutive months’ maternity leave. 

(2) An employee may commence maternity leave— 
(a) at any time from four weeks before the expected date of birth, unless otherwise agreed; or 
(b) on a date from which a medical practitioner or a midwife certifies that it is necessary for the employee’s health or that of her unborn child. 

(3) No employee may work for six weeks after the birth of her child, unless a medical practitioner or midwife certifies that she is fit to do so. 

(4) An employee who has a miscarriage during the third trimester of pregnancy or bears a stillborn child is entitled to maternity leave for six weeks after the miscarriage or stillbirth, whether or not the employee had commenced maternity leave at the time of the miscarriage or stillbirth. 

(5) An employee must notify an employer in writing, unless the employee is unable to do so, of the date on which the employee intends to— 

(a) commence maternity leave; and 
(b) return to work after maternity leave. 

(6) Notification in terms of subsection (5) must be given— 
(a) at least four weeks before the employee intends to commence maternity leave; or 
(b) if it is not reasonably practicable to do so, as soon as is reasonably practicable. 

(7) The payment of maternity benefits will be determined by the Minister subject to the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1966 (Act No. 30 of 1966).


We wish new moms all the best on this journey and look forward to assisting you with your flexible employment requirements as a new career part-timer and mom.

Join our skilled moms database and apply for the job that you’ve always wanted.