More on Maternity Benefits in South Africa:

What is maternity leave UIF?

The Unemployment Insurance Fund has been established to provide short-term relief to workers, subject to certain conditions when they become unemployed, or are unable to work because of illness, maternity or adoption leave and also to provide relief to the dependents of deceased contributors.

Who can claim it?

Unemployment benefits

An employee can claim unemployment benefits who become unemployed due to termination of his/her services if he/she is dismissed, retrenched, is constructively dismissed; if the employer is liquidated or becomes insolvent or if the business closes as well as if the employee’s contract expires.

Illness benefits

An employee can also claim illness benefits in respect of periods of illness lasting longer than 14  days.

Maternity benefits

An employee can also claim maternity benefits if there is a miscarriage or a stillborn child. The benefits are paid to a maximum of six weeks after the miscarriage/ stillbirth.

Adoption benefits

The application for benefits must be made within 6 months after the date of the order for adoption has been issued by a competent Court. The adopted child must be younger than 2 years. Only the contributor of the adoptive parents can apply for benefits.

Maternity Benefits

Dependant Death benefits

The surviving spouse/ life partner must apply for benefits within 6 months of the date of the death of the contributor. A dependant child can apply for benefits if the surviving spouse/ life partner has not applied within 6 months of the contributors death benefits. Benefits are payable to the surviving spouse or a life partner of a deceased contributor when an application is made.

Can one still claim maternity benefits if the company is paying maternity pay?

Yes, an employee can claim maternity benefits, in addition to the employer paying a certain portion of the employee’s gross remuneration whilst on maternity leave. Benefits that are payable is the difference between what the employer pays and the rate that is prescribed in the benefit scheduled of the Unemployment Insurance Act. When taking into account the amount paid by the employer and amount prescribed in the benefit schedule, the total amount should not exceed 100% of the normal remuneration that the person would have received if she remained in employment.

When should one apply for maternity UIF?

Maternity leave is a period of 4 (four) months and the employer is not required to pay the employee her monthly remuneration during this period. She claims maternity benefits via UIF 1 (one) month prior to her pregnancy. She should register with UIF to claim her maternity benefits, as soon as she stops working.

How should one apply for maternity benefit?

An employee can register to claim maternity benefits either by going, in person, to an office of the Department of Labour. Alternatively, the employee can log onto the UIF website (

How much can one expect to be paid out?

The rate at which the benefits are payable is calculated according to the sliding scale of between   38-60%. Credits are given to the workers as they work and contribute to the Fund. The credits are accrued as follows:

For every six days that you work as a contributor, you receive one day’s credit subject to a maximum of 238 days. In order to qualify for the full 238 days credits, you must have worked as a contributor for at least four years.

Have there been recent changes to the rules and regulations governing maternity UIF (i.e. the new law regarding the cap)

The promulgation of the UIF amendment Act may come about in next year. When the Act is promulgated, then the maternity benefits will be paid at a flat rate of 66%.

Are these new rules more or less beneficial to women claiming UIF?

The Unemployment Amendment Act, 2016 will extend Unemployment Insurance benefits to women claiming UIF benefits.

A contributor’s entitlement to benefits shall accrue at a rate of one day’s benefit for every completed five days of employment as a contributor subject to a maximum accrual of 365 days benefit in the four year period immediately preceding the day after the date of ending of the period of employment.

An application for maternity benefits must be made at any time before or after childbirth provided that the application shall be made within a period of 12 months after the date of childbirth.

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