Maternity and Paternity Leave | Western Cape Government

Maternity and Paternity Leave



Being a working parent of a newborn can be overwhelming, which is why South African law protects parents and ensures they get time off work to bond with their babies. Here’s what you need to know:

What is the difference between maternity and paternity leave?

Maternity leave applies to pregnant women who are not able to work or have recently given birth.

Paternity leave applies to fathers and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act allows you take three days’ paid family responsibility leave, provided that:

  • You have worked for an employer for longer than four months.
  • You work at least four days a week for an employer.

Remember, your employer has the right to ask for proof of birth when you request leave.

Understanding maternity leave

If you are pregnant, you will need more time off from work for your health and safety. Maternity leave is also an opportunity for mothers to bond with their babies.

You can take leave but will need to understand what your rights and responsibilities are:

  • You can take four months’ maternity leave, starting one month before your due date.
  • If you are planning to take maternity leave, you should inform your employer of the expected date of the birth of your child.
  • You must inform your employer in writing of when you expect to return to work.
  • maternity-leave-mom-pink-shoesIf you are a mother, you cannot be forced to go back to work for six weeks after the birth of your child, unless your doctor or midwife says it is safe.
  • If your child is stillborn, you can remain on leave for six weeks after the birth, or a longer period if a medical practitioner states that it is necessary for your health and safety.
  • Leave may be paid or unpaid. If your leave is unpaid and your employee has been contributing to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), you will be able to claim benefits during the period that you’re on maternity leave.
  • Your employer may appoint a temporary employee to perform your duties while you’re on maternity leave.
  • A pregnant or nursing mother may not do work that is unsafe for her or her child.

Where can I find more information?

You can get in touch with the Department of Labour by visiting them at:

Fourth to Sixth floors
West Bank Building
Corner Riebeeck and Long streets
Cape Town

Office hours: 07:30 to 16:00, Monday to Friday.

Or by contacting them on:

Tel: 021 441 8000
Fax: 021 441 8135

Source: (Basic Guide to Maternity Leave)

Provided by:
Government Body: (The Government of South Africa)
The content on this page was last updated on 18 March 2015