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January – June 2018

The SABPP Women’s Report 2016: Pregnancy in the workplace

Pregnancy in the workplace
  • Prof Anita Bosch
  • MAY 2018
  • Tags Reports, Leadership
7 minutes to read


Article written by Prof Anita Bosch

The 2016 edition of this report, with USB’s Prof Anita Bosch as editor, published a collection of research papers on pregnancy in the workplace.

At first glance, pregnancy does not seem like a topic that should be linked to the workplace. However, it is clear that pregnancy in the workplace often leads to discriminatory practices, with one parent exiting paid work completely, and management experiencing discomfort in dealing with the HR issues.

In Chapter 1, Prof Anita Bosch outlines the reasons why pregnancy should be normalised and not treated as an anomaly in the workplace. The chapter concludes with aspects that HR practitioners should consider in dealing with the phenomenon.

If pregnancy is a reality of life and if paid work is also a reality for the majority of families … how can workplaces deal with this?

In Chapter 2, Italia Boninelli, Research Associate from the University of Johannesburg, presents a strong argument for the management of a woman’s career from a family planning perspective. The thoughtful advice should inspire women to take charge of the timing of pregnancies while at the same time focusing on their career goals.

South Africa’s family responsibility leave, which is the closest thing to paternity leave, seems to be lacking.

The South African Constitution protects women from discrimination based on pregnancy and birth. In Chapter 3, Prof Hugo Pienaar and Elizabeth Sonnekus, both from Employment Law at Cliffe, Dekker, Hofmeyr Inc., outline South African employment law considerations in relation to pregnancy. Their contribution includes an overview of legislation in the USA and Europe, as well as the stance of the International Labour Organization with regard to the protection of pregnant women.

Chapter 4 provides an overview of menopause. Here, Dr Linda Chipunza and Elizabeth Dhlamini-Kumalo, both Master HR Practitioners at the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP), provide interesting reading on a topic that is rarely discussed at work.

The sharing of maternity and paternity leave between the parents should be … more flexible.

The report is supported by the SABPP through its ongoing interest in gender issues in the workplace and by the University of Johannesburg.

Prof Anita Bosch lectures in Women at Work, Human Capital Management and Leadership at the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

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