What types of leave are employees entitled to?
In terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, employees are entitled to annual leave, sick leave, family responsibility leave and maternity leave.
These leave provisions apply to all employees except those who work less than 24 hours per month for the employer. Any other form of leave is a matter for negotiation between the employer and the employee.
An employee is entitled to at least 21 consecutive days’ annual leave on full remuneration in respect of each annual leave cycle. An annual leave cycle is a period of 12 months’ employment with the employer. This amounts to 15 working days’ annual leave per annual leave cycle.
In every sick leave cycle, i.e. each period of 3 years’ continued employment, an employee is entitled to an amount of paid sick leave equal to the number of days the employee would normally work during a 6 week period.
Employees who work a 5-day week are accordingly entitled to 30 days’ sick leave in every 3 year period.
However, during the first 6 months of employment, an employee is only entitled to 1 day’s sick leave for every 26 days worked.
Family responsibility leave
Employees who have been in employment with an employer for longer than 4 months and who work for the employer at least 4 days a week are entitled to 3 days’ paid family responsibility leave per annum.
Family responsibility leave may be taken:
- When the employee’s child is born or sick
- In the event of the death of the employee’s spouse or life partner, parent, grandparent, adoptive parent, child, grandchild, adopted child or sibling.
Female employees are entitled to 4 consecutive months’ maternity leave. Maternity leave may commence at any time from 4 weeks before the expected date of birth or from a date on which a medical practitioner/midwife certifies that it is necessary for the employee’s health or the health of the unborn child.
No employee may work for 6 weeks after the birth of the child unless a medical practitioner or midwife certifies that she is fit to do so. An employee who has a miscarriage during the third trimester or bears a still born child is entitled to 6 weeks’ maternity leave after the miscarriage or stillbirth.
Maternity leave is unpaid, however, employees who are contributors to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (the UIF) may claim maternity benefits from the UIF.
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