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Companies that offer 6 months maternity leave in South Africa

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Some companies in South Africa, like Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Volvo Cars, have gone above the national requirements by offering employees 6 months of maternity leave.

Global maternity leave policies differ significantly from one country to the next, and paid maternity leave is not guaranteed everywhere.

Fortunately, South Africa does have regulations for paid maternity leave. However, some companies go above and beyond what is legally required and offer their employees up to 6 months of maternity leave and different kinds of parents are included in these policies.

Global maternity leave policies

When it comes to global maternity leave policies, there are only about 186 countries in the world that require companies to provide their employees with paid maternity leave. Furthermore, there are 26 countries, worldwide, that offer four weeks or less of paid maternity leave.

Other countries often offer longer periods of paid maternity leave, like Austria and Greece, where maternity leave can last for more than 40 weeks. Some countries even pay mothers their full salaries while they are on maternity leave, like Austria, Estonia, Mexico, Portugal, Chile, Germany, Netherlands, and more.

Companies that offer 6 months maternity leave in South Africa

Since there are many benefits to offering longer periods of paid maternity leave, like improved social, emotional, and cognitive development in children whose parents stayed home longer in the first years of their lives, many companies have been introducing longer periods of paid maternity leave than legally required for their employees.

Currently, under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), businesses in South Africa are only required to offer employees four months of paid maternity leave, and although many companies pay full or partial salaries in this period, they are not legally obligated to do so.

In cases where companies do not pay employees their full salaries during the maternity leave period, these employees can claim from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), which will pay employees up to 60 percent of their regular remuneration for up to 17 and a half weeks.

Even though some strides have been made to include adoptive, commissioning, and non-birth parents in the South African regulations in the last few years, these groups are often overlooked when it comes to paternal leave.

Some of the companies working to extend leave for parents in South Africa are Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Volvo Cars. These companies have implemented permanent policy changes to offer their employees paid maternity and even paternity leave periods, because paid maternity leave is so important.

Why paid maternity leave is important

Maternity leave is imperative to ensure the well-being of mothers and newborn babies. However, experts claim that offering mothers paid maternity leave so that they can focus on the care and development of their babies in the first few months after their birth or the adoption of the child, is important in ensuring the economic development of any country.

Offering paid maternity and even paternal leave means that parents do not have to be concerned about losing income for the period that they are looking after their new child. This can essentially lead to higher birth weight in children, longer breastfeeding periods, higher immunisation levels, and lower child mortality rates.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s 6-month maternity leave policy

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced in 2019 that the company would be offering employees 26 weeks of paid parental leave when they have been with the company for longer than a year. This leave applies to both parents, and to parents of adopted children and must be taken within the first 12 months of the date of adoption.

HPE is also offering employees additional support structures, such as a 36-month transitional period, wherein adoptive parents can work part-time. These benefits are offered globally and to all employees of the company, in the hopes that these policies will aid the company in retaining its current employees with a supportive work-culture and attract the best possible new employees to the company.

Volvo Cars’ 6-month maternity leave policy

Volvo Cars soon followed in the steps of HPE with the introduction of its extended maternity leave policy. The company introduced their 24-week parental leave policy for South African employees in 2021. In this case, paternal leave is available for either parent of the child to claim and it can be taken within the first three years of the child’s life.

During this extended leave period, employees are entitled to 80 percent of their base salaries. The definition of parent, in this case, is all legally registered parents, which means that adoptive, foster care, and surrogate parents, as well as non-birth parents or same-sex couples that form part of Volvo cars’ 40000 global employees, can also claim this parental leave.


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