Tabane and others / Impala Platinum Ltd 25 May 2015 [2015] 8 BALR 873 (CCMA) per Commissioner R de Wet.

Damages of R25,000 were awarded to each pregnant employee who had to be removed from underground mining posts involving hazardous work and forced to take early paid maternity leave.  The employer’s practice was regarded as discriminatory because the employees were not properly consulted about finding alternative employment even though they were paid in full during the maternity leave.

John Grogan points out in Employment Law (2015) August issue published by NexisNexis [subscription required] that:

At the end of a five-month strike in the platinum industry, Impala Platinum found itself inundated with applications for maternity leave. Some of the expectant mothers were underground workers. Implats removed those women from their posts and placed them on maternity leave because, so it claimed, there were no suitable and safe alternative posts for them. The expectant mothers claimed that they had been unfairly discriminated against on the ground of pregnancy because other pregnant employees had been found alternative work in the past. The case involved a balance between pregnant mothers’ right not to be unfairly discriminated against and their employers’ obligation to ensure a safe and healthy working environment.