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Question
Posted by: Anon | 2007/05/04

Advice - maternity pay?

When i joined my company 4.5 years ago - my contract made no mention of maternity policies. Within this time a femal employee had a baby and was paid 70% for 4 months.
We are only 4 ladies here. I then expressed my intent to start a family and for clarity on what the maternity benefits would be (assuming it would be the same as my collegue), only to be slapped with an e-mail (to all staff) stating new company policies and that maternity benefits would be UNPAID.
I want to know if they set a precident and/or am I being treated unfairly. The other lady was only employed for a year - I am now pregnant and have been loyal for 4.5 years. Do I have a right to dispute this - i had met with them last year to discuss but I did not seek leagl advice at the time and they were not budging. They won;t even cover med aid?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageLabour lawyer

The companies are not obliged to give any maternity pay whatsoever. This obligation only arises out of the contract or letters of appointment. If in fat you can show that other female employees had received 70% for four months and that this was a trend, then you could make the allegation that it is part and parcel of the employment relationship. If there is only one incident and this has now been refuted, then you certainly don't have a claim for maternity benefits.

MICHAEL BAGRAIM

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Newly employed | 2007/08/17

I've just started at a company and discovered after only a week that I'm pregnant. I was expecting the company to tell me to pack my bags, but they have been very supportive.

We have not discussed maternity leave or maternity pay, but in my situation I wouldn't expect maternity pay from them at all. A friend of mine in a similar situation was told to resign, but that she could reapply for her position when her maternity leave was over.

I feel for others who really need the pay (not saying that I don't) but also think that so many employers get shafted these days by employees who "demand" their rights.

Not to open another can of worms here, but our actions as employees affect the views our employers have of us, and I can perfectly understand why some employers in a situation where they have been taken for a ride before, are reluctant to open themselves up for the same treatment again.

Whatever the company decide, I will respect that decision. I am just relieved in this day and age of high unemployment to have a job. I will be claiming UIF, pittance that it is, and be grateful that at least I have that avenue and a job to come back to.

Reply to Newly employed
Posted by: christina | 2007/06/13

Is a employer allowed to give full paid maternity leave to two other employees, who did not sign a contract & worked for 2 years or less and is now not willing to pay maternity leave to a employee who worked for 5 years & more & does not have a contract at all? How do one handle this?

Reply to christina
Posted by: Anon | 2007/06/07

Att Employer - 13th chq's are for past performance as you say but who's to say one day the company might ammend this and stop giving them... possibly due to people resigning in Jan.
It was just an example.
My point is if one person abuses the system must we all suffer? This female was given pay for maternity leave - then additional leave and was allowed to come back flexi time - I have requested flexi time to only to be told NO because it didn't work with her??? Oh but I guess she did get fired when she decided to have a second child? Thank goodness for the CCMA - but now all my potential benefits have been squashed!

Also it is true - an employeee MAY take maternity leave from 4 weeks before not MUST. Oh and also females may also claim 3 days family responsibility leave for the birth of a child which I most certainly will do!

Reply to Anon
Posted by: Gyndoc | 2007/06/07

To Anna

Chris Bennet is correct. Maternity leave may start from 4 weeks before birth (womens choice, not the employer) Read ActL:

25. Maternity leave
1) An employee is entitled to at least four consecutive months' maternity leave.
2) An employee may commence maternity leave--
a) at any time from four weeks before the expected date of birth, unless otherwise agreed; or.....

Reply to Gyndoc
Posted by: Miss Pregnant | 2007/06/07

The comapny I work for, does not give any any maternity benefits which I'm ok with. I had my first child 3 yrs ago & am now pregnant again. I was told that one can only claim from UIF once every 4 years. Is this true?

Reply to Miss Pregnant
Posted by: cheryl | 2007/06/07

This maternity benefit thing has got all up in arms....when i was on maternity leave, my boss was kind enough to pay me my full salary as well as claim from uif....he did this only bec' he knew my worth at the company....i worked right up until the very day i delivered where he provided transport for me to be picked up and dropped off and at half day working times....after i delivered, i went back to work whilst my baby was only2 weeks old..he even paid my hospital bill....my point is that i was comfortable during my pregnancy and not stressed trying to figure out how i am going to make ends meet 'cos i had commitments at the end of the month.....i returned to work bec' my boss needed me and bec' i was grateful for what he did for me......it is a give and take situation.......afterall it is better to give than to receive and if you give openly and freely, you will be sure to receive openly and freely........i have since left the company after 4 yrs of service and after coming back from maternity leave i worked for 2 years after..........and he was happy to see me move onn.....

thank you SEAN STRYDOM for being the boss that you were to me...from Cheryl Naidoo

Reply to cheryl
Posted by: Anita | 2007/06/07

To pay a woman on maternity leave the shortfall after she has been paid by the UIF makes sense and is the right thing to do. By doing the right thing you will be rewarded by the employee. Make it clear to the worker that it is not required by law and that you are assisting out of your own good will. These mothers don't need the stress regarding finances as anybody who's had a baby will know, additional costs are extremely high and assisting by taking the financial pain away is a great help and will be appreciated if an open understanding relationship is the order of the day between the employer and employee!

Reply to Anita
Posted by: anna | 2007/06/07

A woman is not supposed to work until the day before the baby is born - most women lie about their due dates to get around this.

Reply to anna
Posted by: anna | 2007/06/07

Message to Chris

Go and read the Basic Conditions of Employment act as are clearly stated in the article on the site. In fact, it is the first bulleted item in the article::

According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, a woman is allowed four months’ maternity leave. She must go on leave four weeks before confinement and may not return before six weeks after labour.
To date the law does not stipulate that paternity leave must be granted.
Your company is not obliged to pay maternity leave. If a woman works for a company that does not offer maternity benefits, she can claim from the Maternity Benefit Fund if she has been contributing to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

Reply to anna
Posted by: Female Employer | 2007/06/07

I agree with Another Female Employer, I wouldn't want a disgruntled employee hanging around, but at least a stipulation about repaying the company makes some people think twice about taking maternity leave and then resigning upon their return. Unfortunately there will always be the exception to the rule.

Reply to Female Employer
Posted by: Another Female Employer | 2007/06/07

I can relate with Emplyer and understand the points put forward by Female Employer. I also had a lady unmarried and resigned after her maternity leave. She would have been in NO position to repay the money and I sure would not have forced someone to stay on just because it fullfilled thier contract conditions. That is looking for somene to mess up your company. No thanks a disgruntle employee can do more damage by staying than by leaving.

Reply to Another Female Employer
Posted by: Chris Bennett | 2007/06/07

Websites such as this have a responsibility to their readers, especially when offering legal advice. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act states that an employee is entitled to AT LEAST 4 consecutive months maternity leave - that means not less than 4 months, but could be more. Secondly, the leave MAY commence at ANY TIME from 4 weeks prior to the expected date of birth. The leave doesn't HAVE to start 4 weeks before, as your web page states. It can start 1 day before, if the mother is happy to do so. You have a labour lawyer "on tap" - how hard would it be to get the right information?

Reply to Chris Bennett
Posted by: Employer | 2007/06/07

Oh by the way 13th cheques are for past performances maternity benifits are paying a salary to someone not being productive at the time (if you don't count being reproductive of course)

Reply to Employer
Posted by: Female Employer | 2007/06/07

As a female employer who has had two kids I find it digusting that employers will not consider paying some maternity benefits to the employees. Although I admit that resignations after taking maternity leave is a common practise and problem, the company can protect themselves by adding in the contract that the employee must return to work for at least a year to "pay back" the maternity benefits she received. Our maternity benefits are structured as follow: you receive 100% of your full salary for the first two months and 50% for the remainding two months. You then have to work for the company for a year after your maternityb leave. Iif you should leave before the end of that year, you must repay the company a proportion of your maternity leave. I have had several ladies who is in my employ (including myself) who has made use of this system and only one has decided to resign shortly after her return to work and she has no problem repaying that amount. Companies should remember that their best assest is their staff, especially in a skill shortaged South Africa.

Reply to Female Employer
Posted by: Employer | 2007/06/07

Actually No I am a woman and have a child. I also had difficulties when I fell pregnant and hence I sympathised and knew how hard it was when you need to make ends meet. She showed no regard to the fact that I employed a temp whilst she was off to keep her job open and the difficulties I faced as a small start up operation in a specialised field. Simply came back and said here is my notice I am not coming back.

Reply to Employer
Posted by: Anon | 2007/06/07

The point is you also can't blame all staff for one person who abused the system - how would you feel if you were promised a 13th chq for example and then had it removed as one of your benefits because another employee resigned a month later.
Please also remember - I assume "employer" and Leanard are men and the maternity benefit does not aid you - but what about your wife?? Would you appreciate it being taken away from her because of another employees abuse of the benefit when she clearly did not and would not. Most employers put in a clause that you have to work in the 4 months after or repay the benefit - which I agree with. You can;t just swap and change benefits to suit the company especially when the comapny has the financial means to pay the benefit.

Reply to Anon
Posted by: Employer | 2007/06/07

Anyone thought of the employers point of view. Here I speak from experience. I had a young lady workng for me who fell pregnant whilst unmarried.

Although I had no obligation to pay her whilst she took maternity benifits I agreed to pay her 30% of her salary and the balance she could claim from UIF so ensuring she did not come up short on her monthend take home pay. Well I was rewarded for this KINDNESS by her promplty returning to work after 4 months and handing in her notice. I have definatley changed my maternity benifits for my staff. Sorry for those who get the raw end of the deal because of the handful of people that always take the arm along with the helping hand

Reply to Employer
Posted by: SNF | 2007/06/07

My contract states that I will be fully remunerated for a period of 4 months maternity leave. I was asked by my employer to sign a new contract where they've changed this to unpaid maternity leave. Obviously I refused to sign the new contract and was told that "I will have to face the consequenses when it comes to increases". And believe me, I am facing the consequenses and has not even used the benefit yet.

Is this fair?

Reply to SNF
Posted by: Anon | 2007/06/06

The company in question is actually very large and profitable.
In my office there are 4 ladies - which meant that 25% of the females were given this benefit. It unfortunatly lacks a central HR and therefore other regional offices have also paid the pregnant females a portion of their salaries.
My issue is that once I enquired what my benefits would be the previous practice was promtly changed to my detriment and without any discussion. That is what I find unfair. Especially seeing as I am the only other female left at "reproductive" age and the company can afford it - I would expect a benefit like this to be extended to me especially considering my length of service and previous practice. Atleast meet me halfway and pay what the UIF won't.

Reply to Anon
Posted by: Leonard | 2007/06/06

I run a small business and have mainly women working for me. If I have to pay evberyone in full who goes on materbity leave, I would go under. No question. Ism't that what UIF is for?

Reply to Leonard
Posted by: anna | 2007/06/06

Isn't it terribly unfair of companies not to pay people on maternity leave? It's not like one can go out and get another job during those four months.

Reply to anna
Posted by: Calibre | 2007/05/06

By law they are NOT compelled to pay maternity benefit. However, indeed it is unfair to pay one employee 70% and not pay others - this can be construed as victimisation. Remember that companies are entitled to amend policies and procedures. But it sounds like they only did this once you brought up the issue. You may have a case as it seems precident was set. Is it worth it to fight it with attorneys at a huge cost???

Reply to Calibre

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