Maternity leave is provided and regulated under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
Female workers are entitled to at least four consecutive months of maternity leave. The worker may commence maternity leave four weeks prior to the expected date of confinement or earlier if a medical practitioner certifies that it is necessary for the health of worker or her child. Also, a worker is not allowed to work within six weeks of child's birth unless a medical practitioner certifies her to do so.
In the event of a miscarriage in the third trimester of pregnancy or a stillbirth, the woman is entitled to six weeks of leave from the date of the miscarriage or stillbirth whether or not she has commenced maternity leave at the time of miscarriage or stillbirth.
The pregnant worker must notify her employer in writing at least four weeks prior to the date of commencement of maternity leave and when she intends returning to work from maternity leave.
Source: § 25 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 1997 (last amended in 2014)
It is not a requirement that employers pay workers during maternity leave. However, some companies may offer maternity benefit packages. In some workplaces, collective bargaining agreements allow for fully paid maternity leave for several months, or partly paid maternity leave for some months. For example, Pick n Pay allows their employees up to 11 months maternity leave, and pays their employees a portion of their salary for the period they are on maternity leave.
Workers on maternity leave may claim from their UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund) if they have contributed to the fund for more than four months.
A worker, contributing to UIF, is eligible for a maternity benefit of 38% to 60% of their average earnings in the last six months, depending on the insured person's level of income. Maternity benefits are paid for a total of 17.32 weeks (six weeks in the event of a miscarriage or a stillborn child).
Workers who work for less than 24 hours a week are not entitled to sign up for UIF, and thus cannot access maternity benefits.
Source: § 12-13, 24 & 2nd Schedule of the Unemployment Insurance Act 2001 (last amended in 2003