Maternity Leave FAQs
When am I entitled to maternity leave?
According to the Minimum Wages Act, “A female employee shall be entitled to maternity leave on production of a medical certificate signed by a registered medical practitioner.” Where by reason of illness due to pregnancy, a female employee becomes temporarily incapable of performing her official duties; she shall be entitled to sick leave.
How much maternity leave can I get?
In Zambia, all non-represented/non-unionised workers are allowed 120 working days unpaid maternity leave (this figure excludes weekends and public holidays). This includes soldiers, public service workers, domestic workers, police, and teachers in public or government schools.
All workers whose employers allow them to form or join unions or be represented are allowed 90 days paid maternity leave (this figure excludes weekends and public holidays), with provision to negotiate for more time (4-6 months) through collective bargaining. This includes teachers in private schools, doctors in private health facilities, accountants, bankers, miners and in journalists.
Will I forfeit other leave days once I am granted maternity leave?
Maternity leave granted shall be in addition to any other leave to which the employee may be entitled.
Does my employer have the right to terminate my services whilst am on leave?
An employer shall not terminate the services of a female employee or impose any other penalty or disadvantage upon such employee for reasons connected with such employee's pregnancy. The law prohibits termination of employment for reasons connected with pregnancy. In the absence of proof to the contrary, an employer shall be deemed to have contravened the law, if he terminates the contract of service or imposes any other penalty or disadvantage upon a female employee within six months after delivery. The employer shall be guilty of an offence.
In case of illness which arises out of pregnancy and results in a female employee becoming temporarily incapable of performing her official duties, such employee shall be entitled to sick leave.
What happens when my child falls sick?
The employee shall be granted leave of absence without loss of pay to enable her to nurse her sick child who has been hospitalised, if due to the nature of the illness the child requires special attention. An employer may, before granting such leave, require the employee to produce a certificate from a medical institution recommending that leave be granted. Days taken as leave shall not be deducted from the employee’s accrued leave days.
How often can someone go on maternity leave?
Maternity leave shall be granted to a woman who has completed two years continuous service from the date of first engagement or since the last maternity was taken.
Does the Act also cover those working for Non-Governmental Organisations and other international businesses?
To the large extent yes, because all females employees regardless of where they work are entitled to maternity but the terms differ from organisation to organisation. For example, instead of the three months provided for in the Minimum Wages Act, in some organisations, female workers are granted four months, taken two weeks before the baby is born and within six months period of the child’s first six months.
Adoption and Parental leave
While this is not applicable to government institutions, some organisations offer parental and adoption leave and this is applicable to both male and female employees. For Adoption leave, an employee is given a minimum of one month, to be taken within three months of the adoption regardless of age and child. Parental Leave is taken 6 weeks before the baby is born or within six months after the baby is born (2 weeks).
Find out more about Leave in Zambia.