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Are employees allowed to give notice during maternity leave?

by , 21 February 2014
One of the frequently asked questions regarding leave is whether or not an employee can give notice during her maternity leave. Read on to find out what the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) says about this.

The BCEA says you must give at least four consecutive months' maternity leave.

This means your employee can start maternity leave any time from four weeks before the expected date of birth, unless otherwise agreed. The law also says you're not obliged to grant paid maternity leave.

Now the big question is: Can an employee give notice during her maternity leave?

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The BCEA has this to say about giving notice during maternity leave

Experts at the Labour & HR Club say that in terms of the BCEA you (employer) can't give notice of termination during any period of leave and you may not allow your employee's notice period to run concurrently with any period of leave.

Important: The BCEA doesn't prohibit your employee from tendering her resignation during any period of leave, which includes maternity leave.

The experts say this means your employee is allowed to tender her resignation while she's on maternity leave. But, her contractual notice period would only start on the day that she returns from maternity leave.

If, for instance, your employee gives notice during her last month of maternity leave, you must tell her that she's contractually required to work her notice period. And you'll take disciplinary action if she fails to return to work as this would be breach of contract.

Also make it clear that if she doesn't return work, you'll be forced to terminate her services.

Now that you know what the BCEA says about employees who give notice during maternity leave, make sure you comply.

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