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Do you know when your pregnant employees are allowed to go on maternity leave - and for how long?

by , 23 May 2013
Pregnancy's a time of celebration and preparation for the new life to come. That's why maternity leave is granted across to globe to pregnant employees. But the amount of maternity leave offered varies from country to country. There's renewed interest in maternity leave at the moment with the President of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners suggesting maternity leave be extended to a full year. While this isn't an option in South Africa, here's what you need to know when an employee comes to tell you she's pregnant and wants to plan her maternity leave...

President of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners, Dr Carlos Chase, has been applauded for his comments on maternity leave in Barbados.
Here's what other countries offer as maternity leave…
Chase said some female workers on maternity leave were forced to return to work just six weeks after giving birth as they take the first six weeks of their maternity leave before giving birth.
It would be better for the bulk of the 12-week assigned maternity leave to be taken after giving birth, says TheBarbadosAdvocate.
But the comment that's been met with the most interest is that Chase suggested new mothers in Barbados be given the option to take a full year off as maternity leave, whether it's fully paid for or not. 
The situation's even better in Scandinavian countries which offer a guaranteed six months' maternity leave on full pay, says FSPBusiness.
In South Africa, some companies offer their female employees three months' paid or partially-paid maternity leave, while other organisations offer more and some give new mothers the time off work but don't pay them for this time because legislation doesn't require this, says FSPBusiness.
Your legal obligations concerning pay and how much maternity leave to provide…
But remember that the Basic Conditions of Employment Act or BCEA says all female employees can take at least four consecutive months' unpaid maternity leave, says the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.
It's unpaid leave as your employee's entitled to claim benefits of up to 58.6% of her current earnings from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) during her maternity leave if she's been contributing to it, adds FSPBusiness.
Revealed: When your pregnant employee's allowed to start her maternity leave!
And remember that your employee can start her maternity leave anytime from four weeks before the expected due date – earlier if a medical practitioner says it's necessary for her health or that of her unborn child, confirms the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.
Knowing your legal obligations will make it that much easier to come to an agreement when discussing maternity leave with a pregnant employee.

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