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Antenatal appointments and pregnant employees: What are your legal obligations?

by , 26 March 2015
Pregnancy... Oh, it's a magical thing.

But when it's your employee who's pregnant, it comes with LOTS of time off.

After all, a pregnant employee has to go for approximately eight to ten antenatal appointments with her doctor or midwife during the first 32 weeks of her pregnancy. Thereafter, she'll go fortnightly, even weekly, until her child is born.

But do you have to pay for all this time off or must she take leave?

Here's what labour law says...

 

It's situations like these that The Code of Good Practice on the Protection of Employees During Pregnancy And After the Birth of a Child was written

 
Government put The Code of Good Practice on the Protection of Employees During Pregnancy And After the Birth of a Child in place to ensure that 'no employee is discriminated against because she is pregnant and that appropriate health and safety measures are taken to ensure the wellbeing of that employee, her foetus and child.'
 
That means, you HAVE to let her attend antenatal appointments and antenatal classes during work hours if she asks for them. 
 
And this time off must be paid for. 
 
You can't ask her to take a half day's leave every time she needs to see her gynae, mid-wife or OB-GYN. And you certainly can't put a clause in your employment contract or HR policies saying otherwise. It's against the law. 
 

Do this to ensure pregnant employees don't take you for a ride

 
What you can do, however, is insist your employee provides written medical evidence of her pregnancy and gives your company two weeks written notice when she asks for time off to attend antenatal appointments. 
 
Get her to tell you the exact date and time of her appointments (bearing in mind that gynae's hardly ever run on time) so that you can plan around them.
 
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