Job Protection

No Harmful Work

It is obligatory for an employer to provide special protection to women during pregnancy from harmful work.

An employer cannot require a female worker to perform overtime work two months prior to the estimated date of delivery. A female worker, subject to the recommendation of health practitioner, who is pregnant should not be made to perform duties requiring continuous standing; or which might be detrimental to that worker’s health and the unborn child. If a work is detrimental to the female worker’s health or that of her child, the employer must offer the employee suitable alternative employment, if practicable, on terms and conditions that are not less favourable than worker’s terms and conditions of employment. A female worker is exempt from working at night if the worker is pregnant and in the third trimester of pregnancy or nursing a child who is aged 6 months or under.

A female worker should not resume work within 6 weeks of the date of child delivery unless a medical doctor certifies that the worker is fit to resume work.

Source: §31(5c) of the Gender Equity and Equality Act No. 22 of 2015; §42 & 44 of the Employment Code Act, 2019

Protection from Dismissals

A women worker cannot be dismissed during the period of her pregnancy. Similarly, she cannot be penalized or put to a disadvantage for reasons connected with her pregnancy and maternity leave.

The Employment Act 1965, amended in 1982, also provided that an employer is considered guilty of an offense if he/she terminates the contract of service or imposes any other penalty or disadvantage on a female employee within six months after delivery. This provision is not found in the current law.

Source: §7(4) of the Minimum Wages and Conditions of Employment (General) Order, 2011 (amended in 2012); §7(4) of the Minimum Wages and Conditions of Employment (Shop Workers) Order, 2011 (amended in 2012); §41(2) of the Employment Code Act, 2019; §31(5b) of the Gender Equity and Equality Act No. 22 of 2015

Right to Return to Same Position

The earlier legislation did not provide for right to return to the work on expiry of maternity leave. However, the Employment Code Act of 2019 explicitly grants this right to a female worker. On expiry of maternity leave, the female worker has the right to return to the job which the employee held immediately before the maternity leave or to a reasonably suitable job on terms and conditions not less favourable than those which applied to the employee before the maternity leave.

Source: §41(7) of the Employment Code Act, 2019