Maternity and Work

This page was last updated on: 2021-01-15

Maternity Leave

Maternity leave is provided and regulated under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

Female workers are entitled to at least four consecutive months of maternity leave (17.32 weeks). The worker may commence maternity leave four weeks prior to the expected date of confinement or earlier if a medical practitioner certifies that it is necessary for the health of worker or her child. Also, a worker is not allowed to work within six weeks of child's birth unless a medical practitioner certifies her to do so.

In the event of a miscarriage in the third trimester of pregnancy or a stillbirth, the woman is entitled to six weeks of leave from the date of the miscarriage or stillbirth whether or not she has commenced maternity leave at the time of miscarriage or stillbirth.

The pregnant worker must notify her employer in writing at least four weeks prior to the date of commencement of maternity leave and when she intends returning to work from maternity leave.

An employee, who is an adoptive parent of a child who is below the age of two, is entitled to adoption leave (paid through Unemployment Insurance Fund) of at least ten weeks consecutively or paternity leave of 10 days. An employee may commence adoption leave on the date that the adoption order is granted; or that a child is placed in the care of a prospective adoptive parent by a competent court, pending the finalization of an adoption order in respect of that child, whichever date occurs first.

A commissioning parents is also eligible for commissioning leave of at least ten consecutive weeks or paternity leave of days on the birth of a child.

Source: § 25, 25-B and 25-C of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (last amended in 2018)


Maternity leave is paid leave. These benefits are paid under Unemployment Insurance Act. A worker, contributing to UIF, is eligible for a maternity benefit of 38% to 60% of average earnings in the last six months, depending on the insured person's level of income. Maternity benefit is paid for a total of 17.32 weeks.

Earlier, the  law allowed only six weeks benefit in the event of a miscarriage or birth of a stillborn child. However, with the amended law, a contributor who has a miscarriage during the third trimester or bears a still-born child is entitled to a full maternity benefit of 17.32 weeks. A worker is entitled to benefits under the law only if she was in employment, whether as a contributor or not, for at least 13 weeks before the date of application for maternity benefits.

Under the amended law, maternity benefits must be paid at a rate of 66% of the earnings of the beneficiary at the date of application, subject to the maximum income threshold. 

Under the Amended Act, an application for maternity benefits must be made in the prescribed form at an employment office at any time before or after childbirth provided that the application has to be made within a period of 12 months after the date of childbirth.

The adoption benefit and commissioning parental leave benefit must be paid at a rate of 66% of the earnings of the beneficiary at the date of application, subject to the maximum income threshold set in the Unemployment Insurance Act.

Source: §12-13, 24, 25 & 2nd Schedule of the Unemployment Insurance Act 2001 (last amended in 2018)


Non-Standard Workers' Rights on Income Replacement during Maternity - Platform workers

Some self-employed workers can claim maternity benefits from the UIF (Unemployment Fund) if they are registered as a Closed Corporation or a Company and have been contributing to UIF. Otherwise UIF payments require proof of employment/payment from an employer, and it is unclear at this point whether any platform companies are providing these at the moment. The BCEA does state that any worker who works more than 24 hours a month is entitled to maternity leave, but whether this includes benefits is not always the case. The access to benefits hence is dependent on classification of a person as “employee” under legislation.

Free Medical Care

No maternity related statutory benefits are provided under labour laws.   

Regulations on Maternity and Work

  • Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (amended in 2002 & 2013)

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