Being pregnant is a wonderful experience but there is also a lot of stress that comes with becoming a mother. As a working mom, one of these stresses is what will happen to your job when they have a baby. Many questions are asked such as “will I lose my job”, “how much leave am I allowed to take” and “will my leave be paid or unpaid”?

To help you put your mind at ease, we have put together a simple cheat sheet of things you need to know about maternity leave.

1. Maternity leave is law

According to South African law, every pregnant woman is entitled to four months unpaid maternity leave. Your leave period can start from four weeks before the baby is due, or if your doctor believes you need to go on leave earlier due to medical issues. You can, however, also return to work six weeks after your baby is born or when your doctor thinks you are okay to return.

2. You can claim from money UIF

By law, maternity leave is unpaid, however certain companies have special maternity policies that will pay you a percentage of your salary each month depending on how long you have been with the company. When signing your contract, make sure you understand what your maternity benefits are. Regardless of whether your company will pay you a percentage of your normal salary, you are entitled to claim money every month from your UIF policy – maybe just add a line or two about how you go about claiming...

3. Don’t forget to notify your employer

Most people don’t tell anyone they are pregnant in their first trimester however it is wise to let your boss know you are pregnant as soon as possible to give them time to plan for when you are on maternity leave.

4. You are still entitled to leave if you have a miscarriage or stillborn child

It is a terrible ordeal to go through a miscarriage or to give birth to a stillborn child, which is why if either of these happens during your third trimester, you are still entitled to six weeks of leave.

5. Your job is safe

Your company is not allowed to permanently replace you when you go on maternity leave, as this would be discriminatory. You may have made plans with your company to come back to work in a different capacity once your maternity leave is over, but this does not mean you will lose your job – there will be a a job waiting for you when you return.