Protection of pregnant employees in the South African workplace : a labour law perspective
The Constitution of South Africa lists pregnancy as a prohibited ground for discrimination. The South African labour law regime likewise makes provision for the protection of women and pregnant employees in the workplace. This protection is against less favourable treatment, through measures that prohibits dismissal and discrimination based on pregnancy. In defiance of these laws, the recent trend indicates that the less favourable treatment of women and pregnant employees in the South African workplace environment has become more prevalent and this has become a contentious issue. Thus, this study will firstly, in view of relevant constitutional guarantees, focus on labour legalisation (and where relevant, related legislation outside the labour law arena) that has been enacted to provide for the protection of pregnant women in the workplace. Secondly, this study will demonstrate that despite these provisions that affords for formal protection of pregnant women in the workplace, practically many pregnant women continue to be treated unjustly because of their pregnancies or reasons related thereto. It is therefore clear that there is a setback with regard to the practical implementation of the laws protecting pregnant employees. Finally, this study will clearly highlight that measures need to be established where the law protects pregnant employees in the workplace, so that these laws serve its purpose and that they are implemented in the correct manner that it is intended to serve. This will be done through tabling recommendations concerning how labour law should be implemented so that the employment rights of women and pregnant employees are comprehensively protected.