The Basic Conditions of Employment Act gives pregnant employees the right to take maternity leave.
The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and the Unemployment Insurance Act is applicable to all employers and employees, with the exception of:
- employees who works less than 24 hours per month for an employer;
- state officials;
- foreigners who works in South Africa on contract;
- employees earning state pension; or
- employees who only earns commission.
Employees that qualify for maternity leave has the right to claim from the UIF and must apply at their nearest Department of Labour themselves for their UIF benefits. The necessary documentation has to be taken with for the application. If the employee’s medical condition does not allow her to visit the Department herself, she can arrange for someone else to go in her place.
When must employees apply for UIF? The claim can be submitted 8 weeks prior to maternity leave, but unfortunately the computer programme used by the Department of Labour cannot process applications before the maternity leave officially commenced. Employees can, therefore, only submit applications when they do not receive their full remuneration/salary from the employer.
For how long can the maternity leave benefit be claimed? The Act does not allow employees to return to work within 6 weeks after the birth of a child. A maximum of 121 consecutive days (4 months) maternity leave benefits can be claimed by the Department of Labour. Thus, for every 6 months the employee worked, they will receive 1 months’ benefits to a maximum of 4 months.
My employer pays the employee fully for the first month of maternity leave. When is the employee supposed to submit her application?
Applications can only be submitted when the full monthly remuneration/salary is not received anymore. If applications are submitted before the last full salary was received the application will be rejected by the system.
If the employee receives a part of her salary per month during maternity leave, she can claim the remaining part of her salary from the UIF.
How long will it take for the first payment to be delivered? It can take between 3 and 6 weeks from the date on which the application was submitted. As soon as the application was approved, you must provide proof that you are on maternity leave every month.