Earlier this week, women at the SA Infantry School at the Oudtshoorn military base were humiliated for falling pregnant, reports the SA National Defence Union (Sandu).
While the female members of the Defence Force are entitled to full maternity benefits, a commanding officer called in pregnant employees of the force and told them they were a disgrace to the defence force, explains News24.
Learn from the shocking, but unsurprising result of humiliating pregnant employees
One of the pregnant trainees committed suicide as a result of this treatment.
This news comes on the back of the Pentagon'sannouncement that it'll lift the ban on women in front-line combat jobs starting in 2016, according to a new study mentioned on Reuters.
But female troops who fall pregnant are still protected.
'If women do become pregnant while overseas, [they] must be evacuated [for their safety],' Reuters adds.
This is one of their key health rights – and it applies in South Africa too.
Do you know your legal duties to protect your pregnant employees?
Pregnant employees have four basic rights, the Health and Safety Bulletin explains.
Pregnant employees have the following four key health rights:
1. Paid time off for antenatal care;
2. Maternity leave;
3. Maternity pay benefits; and
4. Protection against unfair treatment or dismissal.
With these rights in mind, it's easy to see why SANDU has called on the defence minister to suspend the commanding officer responsible for humiliating the defence force's pregnant employees.
Here's what you need to do when you find out you have a pregnant employee, to protect her health and safety
When you find out one of your employees is pregnant, you must review your risk assessment for her specific work and identify any changes that may become necessary to protect her and her unborn baby's health.
If you discover any risks to your pregnant employee from the risk assessment, you need to remove the risk or remove her from being exposed to the risk. You can do this by offering her suitable alternative work for the duration of her pregnancy.
If none of these options are possible, you'll need to suspend her from work on full pay.
Take these steps to protect your pregnant employees' health and safety today to prevent any physical or emotional harm.
Fore more steps on how you can protect your pregnant employees, turn to your copy of the Health and Safety Advisor.
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