Congrats and goodbye

After the initial shock of being retrenched while pregnant, I decided to consider my options carefully before making any major decisions.

Your rights

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act explicitly states that an employer may not discriminate against, or dismiss, an employee because of their pregnancy.  So if you suspect that’s the reason you’ve lost your job, you should contact the CCMA for advice immediately.

If however, as in my case, you regard your retrenchment as fair then, according the Labour Office, your employer still needs to follow certain protocol.
  • The employer must provide you with an official letter informing you of your retrenchment and the reasons for it.
  • They must inform you of your notice period and how it will be worked out. You must be paid up until your last day of work as well as for any leave due.
  • By way of compensation, you are entitled to 1 week’s salary for every completed year worked.
  • The employer must assist you with any documents or information required when applying for UIF.
Once all the paperwork and admin regarding your retrenchment is sorted, should you look for another job or rather head straight for the UIF queue?
Job searching

Rita Rodrigues, a Performance Manager at DAV Professional Placement Group, believes that quality companies do not discriminate. And any employer who does is simply not worth working for.

She feels this is reason enough to disclose your pregnancy as soon as possible. If the employer is not comfortable hiring a pregnant woman then chances are they do not have many child-friendly policies in the work place.

She also warns against hiding your pregnancy to land a job. Because when you eventually do reveal your status, your employer will most likely be more offended by your dishonesty than anything else. And this could affect your working relationship, as dishonesty is not a welcome trait in the workplace.

Be your own boss

If you’ve always toyed with the idea of starting your own business or freelancing - now may be the time to try it out. Bearing in mind your imminent due date and any possible physical demands that come with being your own boss.

It’s a great option if you have family or spousal support and it could be very convenient after the birth of your little one if you are able to manage your own time. But it’s important to note that it is illegal to claim unemployment UIF if you are earning an income elsewhere.


If the job-seeking leads nowhere and the idea of being a “Momtrepreneur” doesn’t appeal to you then it may be best to live with a percentage of your previous salary for a while.

If you are both pregnant and retrenched you are eligible for maternity UIF benefits and unemployment UIF benefits – making the overall period for receiving funds even longer. The amount you will receive, and the duration you will receive it for, depends entirely on your work history. A trip or phone call to your nearest labour centre will provide you with all the information you need. I did both, and so far it’s been a rather pleasant, problem-free experience.

Once I found out how much I will be receiving, I did a simple number crunching exercise in order to establish what my actual expenses are. I was amazed at how little I need to survive - even when pregnant. If you choose to live off UIF for a while, consider it a crash course in living within your means.

Is it easy to manage the paperwork around pregnancy?
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