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'Kate wants to carry over her maternity leave. Is this allowed?'

by , 12 November 2014
Our labour law experts receive a lot of queries about maternity leave.

One question they received this week comes from an employer who wants to know if it's legal to allow her employee, Kate to carry over her maternity leave.

Read on to find out the answer so you can manage maternity leave effectively.

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No, you can't allow Kate to carry over her maternity leave

Labour laws make it clear that employees can't carry over or accumulate their maternity leave entitlement.
Remember, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) says pregnant workers are entitled to at least four consecutive months of maternity leave.
'Consecutive' means to follow one after another in uninterrupted succession or order. This means Kate can't carry over maternity leave.
Let's say Kate goes on maternity leave one month before her due date. She has her baby and gives you notice that she'll return to work after six weeks. She then asks if she can take the other six weeks remaining of her maternity leave when her child is six months old. This isn't consecutive leave.
Again, if Kate asks if she can take the remaining six weeks leave when her child becomes ill or starts a pre-school, this isn't maternity leave. She can only take family responsibility leave, annual leave or unpaid leave to deal with these situations.
There you have it: If you have a 'Kate' in your office, tell her she can't carry over her maternity leave. The law doesn't allow it.
PS: If you have any maternity leave questions just like the above employer, direct them to our experts at the Labour & HR Club.
Alternatively, check out Your Maternity Leave Solution. It will provide you with legally correct answers to the most asked maternity questions so your company won't have another maternity leave headache again.

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