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Maternity benefits in formal employment

The importance of paid work in the lives of many people makes the conditions of employment of utmost importance. The right to protection of health and to safety in working conditions, including the safeguarding of the function of reproduction social security becomes a necessity.

Social security in such an instance is usually in the form of benefits that accrue despite absence from work. In order to limit the scope of the right to maternity leave and the benefits attached to it reference and focus will be on women engaged in jobs with legally prescribed hours and regular wages that are recognised as income sources on which income tax must be paid.

For the advancement of the right to fair and safe labour practices and standards the right to fully paid maternity leave is guaranteed in the Constitution and is specifically prescribed for at least three months. The provision of such a right in effect means that any other law, practice, custom or conduct by employers that prescribes otherwise is of no force or effect.

Women in both the private sector and public service are entitled to maternity leave which is provided for comprehensively in both the Labour Act and the Public Service Act. Labour legislation goes beyond the minimum ninety days to prescribe ninety-eight days maternity leave.

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