By Kaya 959 News
The South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) has called for comments on a discussion paper around maternity leave rights in South Africa.
The discussion paper specifically focuses on pregnant workers who are self-employed, with these workers falling into something of a legislative loophole under current maternity regulations.
“This situation exacerbates the socioeconomic problems of poverty and inequality between women and men in South Africa, prevents women’s full economic participation, and impacts on their reproductive choices,” the SALRC said in a statement.
The discussion paper is part of an investigation by the commission to “examine shortcomings in the current maternity and parental protection mechanisms”.
The SALRC is also looking at how these shortcomings can be addressed and who should be responsible for closing the gaps.
The discussion paper, according to the SALRC, aims to determine two principal questions:
1. Who should be included in the definition of “self-employed worker” (target group) in the informal sector of the economy?
2. What is the nature and extent of the benefit, that is, state maternity and parental benefits that could be offered to self-employed workers in the informal sector of the economy?
Form of discrimination
Gugulethu Mfuphi discussed the topic on Kaya Biz’s ‘Legally Speaking’ this week. She was joined by Nonhlanhla Mtshali, attorney and founder of The Legal Affair.
“If you fall in the definition of an employee, maternity leave accrues to you. Some of the concerns that have been raised by the SALRC is that those who don’t fall within the definition of employees, unfortunately, aren’t receiving maternity leave benefits and that’s the gist really of it.
“If you aren’t an employee, for instance, you are a freelancer, you’re an independent contractor, maternity leave benefits don’t actually accrue to you. So, somehow there is some form of discrimination,” Mtshali says.
Listen to their full interview below:
The discussion paper (153) is available on the SALRC’s website.