Pregnancy in the workplace : a consideration of section 187(1)(e) of the Labour Relations Act.
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Prior the Republic of South Africa’s Constitution Act 108 of 1996, standards regarding fairness and equality of women in the labour market left much to be desired. Additionally, section 187(1)(e) of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995(‘LRA’), has become one of the fundamental provisions addressing the lack of equality between men and women in the labour force, by classifying a dismissal based on pregnancy as an automatic unfair dismissal. The importance of this section is to signify to employers that pregnancy is a natural biological process that should be embraced within society and not a justifiable reason for dismissal. The overall discussion of the paper illustrates the effectiveness and the limitations of S187(1)(e) in providing protection to pregnant employees. It will begin by interpreting the wording of the section to explain the extent of protection provided to pregnant employees. Thereafter, a detailed study of case law will demonstrate the courts’ approach dismissal based on pregnancy. The paper will then explain the limitations of S187(1)(e) in that it does not provide absolute protection from dismissal, and then briefly discuss the remedies available for unfairly dismissed pregnant employees. The conclusion of the paper will summarize the overall impact of S187(1)(e) in addressing discrimination against pregnant employees.