Law

Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (BCEA) Contains the Code of Good Practice “protection of women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child”.


The BECA full version here
 

This law contains the code of good practice that governs the recommendations for women during pregnancy. "The objective of this code is to provide guidelines for employers and employees concerning the protection of the health of women against potential hazards in their work environment during pregnancy, after the birth of a child and while breast-feeding.”
 

Summary

The legal requirements are:
 

  • “No person may be discriminated against or dismissed on account of pregnancy”
  • “Employers are required to provide and maintain a work environment that is safe and without risk to the health of employees. This includes risks to the reproductive health of employees.”
  • “Employers must conduct a risk assessment, which involves identifying hazards, assessing the risk that they pose to the health and safety of employees. And record the results of the risk assessment”
  • Following this risk assessment they are required to:
     

  1. Implement proper measures to eliminate or control hazardous exposures
  2. Train their employees in the risks and measures to control them
  3. Employees must also take steps to safe guard their health

 

Other recommendations:

  • Employers should maintain a record of risks and protective measures
  • Inform employees of hazards
  • Emphasise the importance of early notification of pregnancy
  • Once notified the woman’s job should be evaluated and if necessary she should be placed in a less risky environment
  • Risk assessments must be conducted regularly
  • Pregnant women should be allowed to attend ante-natal appointments
  • Breastfeeding women should have time to express.
  • Records of pregnancy outcomes should be kept

 

Hazards

There are 4 types of reproductive hazards covered in the BCEA; Physical, Ergonomic, Chemical, and Biological. The guide contains a short list of some of the main hazards. The guide also covers conditions of pregnancy that may affect work. And requires the employer to be understanding of these.


Aspects of pregnancy that employers should take into account:

  •   Morning sickness may require a worker start later
  •   Avoid prolonged standing and heavy lifting
  •   More frequent toilet visits
  •   Increasing size – new clothes and protective equipment
  •   Tiredness may require less overtime and some rest periods

 

Check list

To be able to fulfil the requirements of the BCEA employers should:
 

  • Record risks regularly
  • Place control measures
  • Maintain a list of unexposed jobs to place the pregnant or breast feeding employee in
  • Inform employees of hazards
  • In cases of uncertainty – consult an occupational health practitioner
  • Arrangements should be made for employees to attend antenatal and post natal care as required
  • The outcomes of pregnancies should be recorded and reviewed
  • Take aspects of pregnancy into account


Employees should:
 

  • Inform their employers of their pregnancies as soon as possible
  • Pay attention to health risks and practice hygienic behaviour