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Four maternity leave errors that could land you at the CCMA

by , 22 November 2013
In the UK, the Liberal Democrats are putting forward a proposal to give new parents extra maternity/paternity rights. Among other things, the proposal aims to give parents 15 months off work between them; also, they can take time off with as little as one weeks' notice to the employer. But Tory and coalition party members are horrified, stating businesses recovering from the recession simply won't cope. Luckily, South African Labour Law isn't quite so wild and free! But there are still four mistakes that employers make too often, when granting maternity leave.

The experts at the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf highlight five common errors that employers make when it comes to maternity leave. Make sure you don't make these mistakes.
Avoid these four maternity leave errors
1.       Not giving time off for adoptive parents
If your employee(s) adopts a child, both parents are entitled to at least three days of paid family responsibility leave. However, this may not be a sufficient amount of time if the child is very young and needs constant care. You'll need to clarify how adoption leave will be treated at your company.
Make sure your policy clearly states your company's position on what benefits adoptive parents will receive for adoptions involving children under two years old and over two years old.
2.       Not giving learners maternity leave

Learners in learnerships are entitled to the same maternity leave as ordinary employees. But a learner isn't entitled to receive her allowance during any period of maternity leave she takes.

3.       Giving the incorrect number of leave days
You must give at least four consecutive months' maternity leave. Your employee can start maternity leave any time from four weeks before the expected date of birth, unless otherwise agreed. Or on a date that a medical practitioner or a midwife certifies is necessary for her or her unborn child's health. She may not work for six weeks after her child's born, unless a medical practitioner or midwife certifies that she can.
Remember that even if your employee works for you for less than four days a week, she's also entitled to maternity leave. As maternity leave isn't paid leave, she's entitled to the full four months' leave.
You can grant more maternity leave as long as the leave is more than the minimum requirements stated in the BCEA. If you choose to grant more maternity leave, make sure you have a maternity leave policy explaining the full benefits of the maternity leave.

4.       Dismissing an employee who's on maternity leave
If you dismiss your employee, it's an automatically unfair dismissal if it's related to her pregnancy, intended pregnancy, or any reason related to her pregnancy. There are two exceptions to this rule...
Exception # 1: If an employee's found guilty of misconduct and you dismiss her, and the dismissal's both substantively and procedurally fair. You can then dismiss the pregnant employee or employee on maternity leave.
Exception #2: A dismissal may be fair if the reason for dismissal's based on operational requirements and you no longer need your employee to perform her duties.

Now you know exactly which maternity leave errors to avoid!

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