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Manaka Ranaka opens up about being fired because she was pregnant and refused to abort

Commemorating her eldest daughter’s 20th birthday, Generations The Legacy actress Manaka Ranaka shared how her female bosses forced her to abort when she told them she was expecting.

Then, Ranaka was 21-years-old and expecting her first child. She did not go into a lot of details, but in 2000, Ranaka joined Isidingo as Nandipha Sithole. 

According to Vantu News, Ranaka fell pregnant shortly after she joined the cast, and was subsequently fired. 

Now, she is shedding light on the circumstances leading to her dismissal from the cast. According to her Instagram post “I remember when women I worked for told me to abort you and I was like la hlanya (you are crazy), they fired me!” 

The entertainment industry and pregnancy

Ranaka joins a pool of other actresses that have opened up about being fired because of their pregnancy. Sphelele Mzimela who played Mazaza in Uzalo, Gabisile Tshabalala, and allegedly The Queen’s Zenande Mfenyane. 

Gabisile Tshabalala started a Twitter hashtag she coined #SoWhatImPregnant, and rallied women to share their stories of pregnancy discrimination. The stories were heartbreaking, as women shared how they aborted or ensured they don’t fall pregnant for fear of losing their jobs. 

Section 9(3) and (4) of the Constitution of South Africa and The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) protects pregnant women from being discriminated against. Being fired from your work, or being rejected for a role due to your pregnancy is categorised as direct indiscrimination. 

According to the South African Labour Guide, employers don’t always jump for joy at the news of an employee falling pregnant. They will incur costs, as the employee takes leave for four (4) consecutive months. However, these are not grounds to force anyone to terminate, ask them to resign or fire them from their job. 

ALSO SEE: Everything you need to know about the maternity leave precedent set in court this week

What are your rights if you are pregnant in the workplace? 

How soon after finding out you arepregnant should you tell your employer?

There is no rule. A lot of women wait until they are at least 12 weeks pregnant, but this is a personal choice. You just need to notify your employer 4 weeks before the date you are deciding to take your maternity leave. Informing your employer is a matter of courtesy, not an obligation. 

Can your responsibilities be shifted if they may be harmful to you or your unborn child?

It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the environment in which a pregnant woman is working is safe and without risk. Section 26(1) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) for instance protects pregnant women. It “prohibits employers from requiring or permitting a pregnant employee or an employee who is breastfeeding to perform work that is hazardous to the health of the employee or the health of her child”.

Are you eligible for maternity leave if you have been with a company for less than a year?

You are eligible for unpaid maternity leave regardless of how long you have been with the company. However, your company might stipulate that you are not eligible for paid maternity leave if you have been in their employ for less than a year.

When can you take your maternity leave?

Maternity leave may be taken at any time from 4 weeks before the expected date of birth of the child. This is the case unless a medical practitioner tells you otherwise.

How long is maternity leave?

Every employee is entitled to four (4) months of unpaid maternity leave as stated in section 25 of the BCEA. Employers are not legally obliged to pay you during maternity leave, most do. Some even pay their employees 100% of their salary.

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