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Maternity leave: What to expect when you’re expecting

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Maternity leave: What to expect when you’re expecting

Taking maternity leave is a happy time for new mothers to enjoy settling in and bonding with their babies (despite that lack of sleep everyone keeps telling you about).

But before you think about putting in maternity leave, there’s some admin that needs to be taken care of, like claiming maternity benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

To help you get started, here is everything you need to know to make the process as seamless as possible.

Who can apply for maternity benefits?

Maternity benefits are exclusive to women (sorry, boys) who are employed and actively contributing to the UIF as part of their monthly payroll deductions.

While some companies offer women a percentage of their salary, a 2021 study by Remchannel found that 24% of South African employers did not offer any form of paid maternity leave.

When can I commence maternity leave?

Pregnant employees are legally entitled to four consecutive months of maternity leave. Businesses can offer longer leave periods at their discretion.

Maternity leave can be taken any time from four weeks before the birth—or earlier if a doctor recommends it. Legally, you cannot return to work before six weeks postpartum (after the baby is born). You can return to work between six weeks and four months postpartum if your doctor approves it.

How much maternity leave can I take?

You can claim a maximum of 121 consecutive days (four months) of maternity leave.

This will depend on how long you have worked before submitting your application.

The Department of Labour uses the last four years worked to calculate how many credit days you get. For every six months you have worked, you receive one month’s benefits, up to a maximum of four months.

How do I get my maternity money?

Once on maternity leave, you can apply for benefits at your nearest Labour Centre—either in person or by proxy (i.e. someone applies on your behalf). Take all the required documents with you, or you’ll make the trip twice.

Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Have these docs ready:
  • 13-digit bar-coded ID or passport
  • Form UI-19 (completed by your employer). Your employer uses this form to submit your particulars to the UIF’s database.
  • Form UI-2.7 (completed by your employer).
  • Form UI-2.8 (for banking details). This form has a section your bank must complete to verify the account into which the money will be paid.
  • Form UI-2.3 (application form). This is a yellow form that needs to be completed and submitted in its original format (i.e. no copies allowed).
  • Form UI-4 (follow-up form). This is also a yellow form that needs to be completed and submitted in its original format.
  • Medical certificate from a doctor or birth certificate of the baby.

These forms are available on the Department of Labour website ( and at provincial offices and Labour Centres.

  1. Visit your local Labour Centre

You can either visit the Labour Centre yourself or send someone to submit the application on your behalf. The staff at the Labour Centre will check the documents and guide you through the process.

  1. Follow up, if necessary

Be sure to follow the instructions of the Labour Centre staff. This might mean revisiting the doctor or returning to the centre every month. If you don’t follow these instructions, you might not be able to claim your maternity benefits.

How much can I claim?

If your employer does not offer maternity benefits, you will receive less than your regular wages while on maternity leave. As a UIF contributor, you qualify for a maternity benefit of between 38% and 58% of your salary, depending on your earnings.

For example:

  • If your salary is R12,478 or more, you’ll get R155.89 per day or R4,676 a month.
  • If you earn R5,000, you’ll get around R72.96 per day or R2,188 a month.
  • If you earn R3,000, you’ll receive roughly R47.62 per day or R1,428 a month.

If you are paid by the hour, add up the last six months’ salary and divide it by six. Then do the same with your UIF contributions. These respective figures are the monthly salary and UIF contribution amounts to use on the UI.19 and UI2.7 forms.

If your company pays a percentage of your salary, you can apply for the balance from the UIF. You cannot claim more than 100% of your salary from your employer and the UIF combined.

When will I receive my maternity money?

Approval of the application and first payment takes about three to six weeks from the submission date. Payment will only be made for the days that proof of maternity leave can be provided. This will need to be done every month.

Who can’t claim maternity benefits?

Certain people cannot claim maternity benefits. These include:

  • People who work less than 24 hours a month
  • Public servants
  • Foreigners working on contract
  • Learners
  • Workers who get a State pension
  • Workers who only earn commission

Maternity leave management

When employees are on maternity leave, it can increase the workload for the rest of the team. While businesses can hire a temporary employee for the duration of the leave, it is sometimes not viable. This can create challenges for both the employer and the employee.

When using a leave management system like the Leave Management module in Sage 300 People, maternity leave can be implemented to benefit both the employer and employee.

These benefits include:

  • Ability to configure the leave function according to your company policies
  • Complete complex and automated calculations that cater for all leave scenarios
  • Automatic accrual
  • Multi-year leave rules
  • Leave reports scheduled to managers or displayed online via the Sage Employee self-service portal
  • Powerful and flexible rule-based setup

Other key benefits of using Sage 300 People include:

  • Employee self-service: allows employees to update their details and request time off.
  • Recruitment: manage the recruitment process and keep track of applications and candidates.
  • Performance reviews: help employees set goals and objectives and meet KPIs.
  • Reporting: create custom reports on things like employee attendance, performance, and turnover. You can also analyse this data.
  • Benefits administration: help employees enrol for benefits.
  • Employee record-keeping: store important employee records.
  • Mobile access: allows employees remote access via their smartphones.

Transform your organisation’s HR and payroll with Sage 300 People

A powerful HR, payroll and self-service solution designed to increase your organisation’s productivity and drive growth.

Tell me more

Read this article for more info on UIF benefits and parental leave.

Read this article for more on the ins and outs of leave management.

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