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Learnerships, Pregnancy and Family Responsibility

Learners are entitled to maternity leave.

What if I’m pregnant and on a Learnership?

According to Sectoral Determination 5: Learnerships, you cannot be fired.

Here is the specific legislation about maternity leave.

Maternity Leave (Number 24 of the Determination)

(1) (a)     A learner is entitled to at least four consecutive months’ maternity leave.

(b)    A learner is not entitled to receive her allowance during any period of maternity leave she takes.

(2)  A learner may begin maternity leave-

  • at any time from four weeks before the expected date of birth, unless otherwise agreed; or
  • on a date from which a medical practitioner or a midwife certifies that it is necessary for the learner’s health or that of her unborn child.

(3)  No learner may 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 learner 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 learner had started maternity leave at the time of the miscarriage or stillbirth.

(5)  A learner must notify an employer in writing, unless the learner is unable to do so, of the date on which the learner intends to-

  • begin maternity leave; and
  • return to work after maternity leave.

(6)  Notification in terms of subclause (5) must be given-

  • at least four weeks before the learner intends to start maternity leave; or
  • if it is not reasonably practical to do so, as soon as it is reasonably practical.

Protection of Learners before and after the birth of a child (Clause 25)

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

  • During a learner’s pregnancy, and for a period of six months after the 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-
    • the learner is required to perform night work, as defined in clause 16 (1) or her work poses a danger to her health or safety or that of her child; and
    • it is possible for the employer to do so.

Family Responsibility Leave (Clause 26)

Perhaps a learner experiences a personal tragedy such as illness or death of a loved one. Sectoral Determination 5 covers this in the following manner:

(1) This clause applies to a learner-

  • who has been in employment with an employer for longer than four months; and
  • who works for at least four days a week for that employer.

(2) An employer must grant a learner, during each annual leave cycle, at the request of the learner, three days’ paid leave, which the learner is entitled to take-

  • when the learner’s child is born;
  • when the learner’s child is sick; or
  • in the event of the death of-
    • the learner’s spouse or life partner; or
    • the learner’s parent, adoptive parent, grandparent, child, adopted child, grandchild or sibling.

(3) An employer must pay a learner for a day’s family responsibility leave-

  • the allowance the learner would normally have received for work on that day; and
  • on the learner’s usual pay day.

(4) A learner may take family responsibility leave in respect of the whole or a part of a day.

  • Before paying a learner for leave in terms of this clause, an employer may require reasonable proof of an event for which the leave was required.
  • A learner’s unused entitlement to leave in terms of this clause lapses at the end of the annual leave cycle in which it accrues.
  • A collective agreement may vary the number of days and the circumstances under which leave is to be granted in terms of this clause.

[2] In terms of section 187(1)(e)  of the Labour Relations Act, 1995, the dismissal of an employee 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 an employee to resume work after she has taken maternity leave in terms of any law, collective agreement or her contract.


More from Sectoral Determination 5: Learnerships

Do you know that the legislation says learners must be issued with a Contract of Employment and Certificate of Service?

Rules for the termination of learnership agreements also apply.

How much South Africans are paid and your Learnership expectations

How much are Interns Paid?

Read more on the Department of Labour Website here

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Comments (7)

  1. Hey. Am in a 1 year learnership contract, am I entitled to the 4 months maternity leave? Will I be given time to complete the programme?

    1. Yes you’re entitled to maternity leave! Don’t tell them you’re pregnant during the interview unless they ask. Only tell them you are pregnant once you’re on the learnership, attending training etc so that they can’t reject your application.

  2. Hi i’m in a learnership and pregnant, my contract ends end of June 2018 and has been renewed till November 2018, will i be granted maternity leave since i’m due in July and maternity is supposed to be 4 months and my contract ends then.should June be my last month and i don’t come back at all ?please advise.

  3. Hi, I recently wrote psychometric tests for a learnership and passed all of them and was told I’d be notified when I’d be starting. I’m about 7 weeks pregnant and was called to come for medicals. I have to state in the medical forms whether I’m pregnant or not so I was wondering if this could lead to the company not taking me for the learnership?

    1. Please let me know which company and what the qualification is so I can determine why medical checks are a prerequisite. This is highly unusual.

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