How bad is workplace discrimination against pregnant women in South Africa?
Actress, presenter speaker and mother of 4, Gabisile Tshabalala is expecting her 5th child, and she's using her pregnancy to create a safe space for women to talk about the discrimination they face at work as a result of being pregnant.
Women face various challenges when it comes to work spaces, and inequality and discrimination are already known common issues. But does the inequality gap stretch when you are pregnant?
According to Gabisile, the answer is yes.
She adds that many women in the entertainment industry have experienced this kind of discrimination.
Actress Gail Malabane says that in May 2018 she was cast and landed a role, but then lost the part after revealing she was pregnant.
She she shared with TshisaLive that "They called me in to just read with another actor that they were busy casting. I went in and I was about five months pregnant. I just thought out of courtesy, because you couldn't tell that I was pregnant, I thought let me tell them."
"Literally the next day, my legal guy was busy going through my contract, so I had already received the contract, and they were like 'No. Sorry. We're just not sure. We don't know.' I'm not sure if it was 'we're not sure that you're going to lose the weight' but I just couldn't believe it," she explained.
Working mom DJ Zinhle has also spoken on TshisaLive about how scared she was falling pregnant being an entertainer and a working woman.
"I was also scared of making a baby as someone in the industry. I was chatting to a friend the other day and they were like, 'this is a problem with woman in the industry.' They forget their role of being a woman, like just being a woman. Now you just want to be the person in the industry full time."
Discrimination does not only happen in work spaces, but in schools too.
I fell pregnant at the end of my second year in University and my then HOD told me not to come back, but to rather " take the year off and be a mom. You can't juggle both"
So I can relate when Gabisile says many women around the world experience this discrimination.
She invited women to share their stories with her.
What does the law say?
Section 9(3) and (4) of the Constitution of South Africa prohibits any person to discriminate against any other person.
An employee is in entitled to 4 (four) months unpaid maternity leave as stated in section 25 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).
A pregnant woman can claim UIF maternity benefits from the Department of Labour and she can submit her claim forms at least 8 (eight) weeks prior to commencing her maternity leave.
If an employee is discriminated against, because of her pregnancy, this type of discrimination will fall under automatically unfair discrimination [sec 187(e) of the LRA] and the employee can claim up to 24 (twenty four) months’ salary.
Read here about paternity leave: Yes! New paternity leave benefits begin now
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