Specialist Labour Lawyers

Changes in UIF Act Related to Maternity Leave and Other Important Issues

Employers and employees alike need to take note of the amendment to the UIF Act. The amendment brings significant improvement in the benefits that employees can receive from the Unemployment Insurance Fund and claiming will also be easier. The Unemployment Insurance Amendment Act, 2016 was promulgated in January 2017. Making use of specialist labour lawyers will help employers and employees to keep up with the changes in the various acts related to employment. The labour attorneys focus on employment and labour-related laws and as such, make sure clients understand compliance requirements and their rights.

Employees contributing to the UIF have the right to claim benefits in several instances:

  • When they are dismissed, whether for operational reasons, incapacity, misconduct, or retirement.
  • When they become too sick to work for a period or permanently.
  • Maternity leave.
  • When they adopt a baby, and take maternity leave without payment.
  • The beneficiaries have the right to claim dependent benefits if the breadwinner employee passes away.

Compulsory Contribution to the UIF

Every employer who has a minimum of one employee must register at the Department of Labour and by law must deduct and pay UIF contributions. Nobody is exempt and if the employer does not do so, the employee has the right to notify the Department of Labour or to take legal steps against the employer with assistance from specialist labour law attorneys.


The employer must deduct 1% of the employee’s pensionable earnings and also pay an additional 1% of the employee’s pensionable remuneration on their behalf to the UIF.

Fine for Non-Compliance

Many employers of domestic workers do not deduct UIF and do not make contributions on behalf of their workers. The law is strict regarding the issue. Even if the domestic worker only works one day a week at the employer, she is entitled to UIF and deduction must be made. If the employer fails to deduct and pay UIF, the employer can face a fine and can even be imprisoned for up to 12 months. The court can furthermore rule that the employer must pay the benefits that the employee would have received if the contributions have been made.

How the amendment to the UIF Act will change maternity leave UIF claim benefits

The amendment will make it possible to claim a flat percentage of your salary during the maternity leave period, set at 66%.

Who are excluded from UIF contributions and claims?

People who work less than 24 hours a month at a specific employer, public servants, workers who get old-age pension from the state, employees only working on commission, learners, foreigners who work on contract, and independent contractors, as they do not fall within the definition scope of what an employee is, are excluded. Note that domestic workers can claim, even if they work for more than one employer and are retrenched or dismissed at one of the employers or one of their employers dies.

Timeframe for claiming from the UIF

Employees who have lost their jobs must claim benefits from the UIF within the allowable period of six months from date of employment termination. They must also register as work seekers, unless they claim for maternity leave purposes or have become permanently disabled or unable to work due to health reasons. The UIF may refuse to pay benefits if the worker refuses to seek advice, does not want to go for training or does not want to accept a job offering.

Contact our specialist labour lawyers at reception@www.allardyce.co.za or on (011) 234 2125 for legal assistance related to employment, changes in legislation, and how these affect the employer or employee, the right to strike, dismissals, and employment contracts.


NB: This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You are advised to consult with us before using/relying on this information.

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