The rule is, if you decide to retrench an employee who's on maternity leave, or who's just returned from maternity leave like Bronwyn, the reasons must be genuine.
Essentially, you must have valid reasons. You can't dismiss her just because you're afraid she might get pregnant again.
In addition to having genuine reasons, you mustn't neglect your consultation obligations towards your employee.
Let's say your company is undergoing a restructuring exercise.
You consult with all affected employees and after applying fair and objective selection criteria, you retrench an employee who's just returned from maternity leave for operational reasons. In this case, the reason for dismissal is genuine.
But, if you dismiss an employee for operational reasons just because she's taken maternity leave, the reason for her dismissal won't be genuine.
If your decision to retrench is a sham, you risk having to compensate your employee with 24 months' pay if she takes you to the CCMA!
There you have it: Before you decide to retrench Bronwyn who's just returned from maternity leave, make sure you have a genuine reason. And remember, a dismissal on the basis of pregnancy, intended pregnancy, or any reason related to pregnancy is automatically unfair.
PS: For more information on maternity leave, check out Your Maternity Leave Solution.