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Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (Act No. 75 of 1997)

Sectoral Determinations

Sectoral Determination 13 : Farm Worker Sector, South Africa

Part E : Leave

24. Maternity leave 5


(1) A farm worker is entitled to at least four consecutive month’s maternity leave.


(2) A farm worker may commence maternity leave—
(a) at any time from four weeks before the expected date of birth, unless otherwise agreed; or
(b) on a date from which a medical practitioner or a midwife certifies that it is necessary for the farm worker’s health or that of her unborn child.


(3) A farm worker may not work for six weeks after the birth of her child, unless a medical practitioner or midwife certifies that she is fit to do so.


(4) A farm worker who has a miscarriage during the third trimester of pregnancy or bears a stillborn child is entitled to maternity leave for six weeks after the miscarriage or stillbirth, whether or not the farm worker had commenced maternity leave at the time of the miscarriage or stillbirth.


(5) A farm worker must notify an employer in writing, unless the farm worker is unable to do so, of the date on which the farm worker intends to—
(a) commence maternity leave; and
(b) return to work after maternity leave.


(6) Notification in terms of sub-clause (5) must be given—
(a) at least four weeks before the farm worker intends to commence maternity leave;
(b) if it is not reasonably practicable to do so, as soon as is reasonably practicable.


(7) No employer may require or permit a pregnant farm worker or a farm worker who is nursing her child to perform work that is hazardous to her health or the health of her child.


(8) During a farm worker’s pregnancy, and for a period of six months after birth of her child, her employer must offer her suitable, alternative employment on terms and conditions that are no less favourable than her ordinary terms and conditions of employment, if—
(a) the farm worker is required to perform night work, as defined in clause 17 or her work poses a danger to her health or safety or that of her child; and
(b) it is practicable for the employer to do so.



5 In terms of section 187(1)(e) of the Labour Relations Act, 1995, the dismissal of a farm worker on account of her pregnancy, intended pregnancy, or any reason related to her pregnancy, is automatically unfair. The definition of dismissal in section 186 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995, includes the refusal to allow a farm worker to resume work after she has taken maternity leave in terms of any law, collective agreement or her contract. A farm worker may claim maternity benefits in terms of the Unemployment Insurance Act. 2001.