Employers, here is how to navigate maternity and paternity leave in Zambia:

Maternity and Paternity Leave in Zambia

If you are an employer in Zambia and haven’t encountered any requests for maternity and paternity leave yet, it’s only a matter of time before you do. 

With over 680,000 births per year for a population of 20 million, and a 2.76% increase in the population in 2023, Zambia’s population is growing. As an employer, you must learn about your rights and responsibilities, as well as your employee’s rights, all to better navigate the changes that maternity and paternity will bring to the workplace.

Here is what you need to know to get things right from beginning to end: 

Statutory maternity and paternity leave in Zambia

Maternity Leave in Zambia

In Zambia, according to the Employment Code of 2019, a female employee is entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave, upon the production of a medical certificate. Of those 14 weeks, at least 6 must be taken after delivery.

If the employee in question has been in employment with the same company for a minimum of 12 months before the beginning of her maternity leave, then she is entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave at full pay.

Exceptions & FAQs in Zambia

What is the rule if a female employee is expecting twins in Zambia?

If your female employee is due for a multiple birth, that is, if she is expecting twins, triplets or generally speaking, more than one child, Zambian law allows for an extension in maternity leave for a further period of 4 weeks.

How about if a female employee gives birth to a premature child in Zambia?

In Zambia, if your female employee were to give birth to a premature child, she would be entitled to an extension of her maternity leave.

How long will this extension last? Its duration will need to be determined by a medical doctor, who will assess the child’s needs and give an appropriate extension time.

What if an employee suffers from a miscarriage?

Miscarriages are difficult circumstances for pregnant women, both physically and emotionally.

If your female workers have endured a miscarriage during the last trimester of their pregnancy, or given birth to a stillborn child, then they are entitled to 6 weeks leave on full pay, immediately after the fact.

That is, if the worker has been in continuous employment for at least 12 months before.

Of course, as a compassionate gesture and in adherence to your global employee policy for instance, you may choose to go above and beyond as an employer and offer extra days off to female employees who have suffered such loss.

This kind of gesture reinforces your empathy as an employer, and makes employees feel valued and cared for in an especially trying moment – further reinforcing the attachment and loyalty they feel toward your company.

Can female employees use annual, sick, compassionate or other leave after maternity leave in Zambia?

Yes, they may.

With your approval as the employer (where applicable), female employees coming off from maternity leave can use any other leave to which they are entitled.

It is illegal for employers to withhold annual leave from an employee who was on maternity leave. It is her right to use them as the law dictates. Of course, the timing of such leave may be reviewed if, for example, it impacts on company productivity during a specific time period.

When can women resume their work after maternity leave in Zambia?

In Zambia, a female employee is NOT allowed to go back to work during the 6 weeks preceding her delivery date, unless a medical doctor certifies that she is fit to resume work.

Can female employees work overtime in Zambia?

Yes, they may.

However, employers are not allowed to ask female employees to work overtime hours 2 months before their estimated delivery date.

Additionally, if a qualified health practitioner recommends it, a pregnant worker should not be made to do work that requires continuous standing or that could harm her and her unborn child’s health.  

Can pregnant women be asked to work night shifts in Zambia?

As an employer, you are required by law to exempt a female employee from working at night, if she is either pregnant and in the third trimester of pregnancy, or if she is nursing a child who is 6 months old or younger.

Post-delivery, and back to work, are women allowed breaks for nursing?

Yes, they are.

In Zambia, female employees who are nursing an as-yet unweaned child, are entitled to either 2 30-minute breaks, or 1 hour-long break for nursing purposes.

The employee may choose a time most convenient to her to do so. Female employees are entitled to these breaks for up to 6 months after the date of their child’s birth.

These breaks should NOT be deducted from the employee’s number of paid hours.

Should you, as an employer, offer different nursing break benefits to your female workers, these benefits should be more favourable than the ones outlined by the Zambian labor law, otherwise the labor law takes precedence.

Mother’s Day in Zambia

Zambia’s Employment Code has one particularity: A “Mother’s Day” off. Every month, mothers may take one day off from work without having to provide any reason or any medical certificate to their employer. They still must inform their employer of their planned leave, but are not required to give any explanation.

Paternity leave in Zambia

In Zambia, unlike in some other African countries like Nigeria, men are entitled to statutory paternity leave.

If they have been in continuous employment with a company for at least 12 months, men in Zambia are entitled to 5 continuous days’ paid leave within 7 days of the child’s birth. However, new fathers must also submit their child’s birth record, showing that they are indeed the father.

Once again, should your company offer more favourable conditions than these ones, then the benefits your company provides takes precedence over what is required by the law.

Focus on your company growth, not on internal operations

Imagine if you had to carve out time to take care of internal operations and employee leave management each month… Not only would your overall company growth be affected, but you might also make mistakes and risk non-compliance fines, damaged company reputation and more…

Africa HR Solutions makes it easy for you to get the best of both worlds with our EOR, PEO, and payroll offers. We take the weight of administration off your shoulders, and relieve you of the worries of non-compliance through our 100% guaranteed compliance offer.

Choose a worry-free human resource solution now!

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