Do you suspect your employee isn't being honest about her pregnancy?
Every month, I receive questions about maternity leave like:
'Does annual leave accumulate during maternity leave? '
'How much must I pay?'
And of course, 'How long is my employee entitled to?'
These questions are all pretty easy to answer because the Basic Conditions of Employment Act covers them.
But there's one question that doesn't often come up often, in fact one I haven't heard before. Keep reading below to find out what it is...
'What do I do if I think my employee is misleading me about how far along she is?'
My first reaction was... It doesn't matter, you can't ask her.
But then a bigger question popped up…
'I need to know if she's fit to work up until the date she says she is. Can I ask her doctor?'
'Why on earth would this person want to do that?' you wonder.
Well, part of this issue is that the employee's taking a lot of sick leave and her boss suspects she's due any day now, despite her saying she still has a month to go. And, of course, one of the concerns is that she'll go into labour at any point during the working day!
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Here's what to do if you suspect an employee is a lot further in her pregnancy than she's told you
There's no outright ban against her working in the four weeks leading up to the birth of her baby.
After all, the BCEA says that maternity leave can start at any time from four weeks before the expected date of birth, unless otherwise agreed, or on a date from which her doctor or midwife says it's necessary for her health or that of her unborn child.
And that's means you're within your rights to ask her for a doctor's note to say she's still fit to work and give an expected birth date. Give her a deadline of when to get the note to you – remember, you are worried about her going into labour at any point.
If she doesn't do this, you have to stop her from working. Tell her you're going to stop paying her and put her on 'forced' maternity leave. If she's off ill because of the pregnancy and she's close to her due date, she should be on maternity leave and not taking sick leave!
Get the proof she's fit to work or send her home – not permanently, of course!