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HR 101 – WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Staff Take Time Off

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Once again the issue of what and how much time can be taken by employees has come up.  There always seems to be so much confusion around this issue – here are the facts.

Annual Leave – This is a legal requirement
In terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCOA), employees are entitled to a minimum of 15 working days per annum.  This is essentially the very minimum for employees that work an eight hour, five day week.  Obviously the longer their day or week the more leave that they are entitled to.

When leave can be taken and the procedures for completing leave forms and authorization therefore needs to be documented into a “Leave Policy”.

Sick Leave – This is a legal requirement
Again the BCOA is quite specific.  Rule of thumb is as follows:  If you take the number of days that your employees generally work over a six week period, that is the number of days that they are entitled to take over a three year period.

So for example, if your employee works a five day week for six weeks, this culminates to thirty days.  Therefore your employee is entitled to take thirty days sick leave over a three year period.

Obviously issues like doctor’s certificates and leave forms should also be taken into account and these requirements should be documented when you are putting your leave policy together.

Please remember that employees need to be reminded that “Sick Leave” cannot be accumulated. If it is not taken it is lost.

Maternity Leave – This is a legal requirement.
In terms of the NCOA, female employees are entitled to four months maternity leave.  At this particular point in time, this is unpaid, however should the Company elect to put the employee on some sort of remuneration or even fully paid maternity leave, they are entitled to do so.  Remember though that once the precedent is set, it needs to be consistently maintained.

As usual the Company’s requirements as well as the rules pertaining to ‘what to do’ when applying for maternity leave should be included in your leave policy.

Family Responsibility Leave – This is a legal requirement.
The BCOA allows for three days in any given year.  There are several requirements as to when and under which conditions this leave can be taken.  The BCOA have the basic requirements, however that said, as long as the basics are me and complied with the number of days as well as the requirements can be extended by the employer.

The BCOA stipulates that Family Responsibility leave can be taken by employees, in relation to the immediate family as defined by the law.  The exact requirements together with the relevant documentary evidence should be included in the Company’s Leave Policy.

Please remember that employees need to be reminded that “Family Responsibility Leave” cannot be accumulated. If it is not taken it is lost.

These are all of the leave applications that are required by law.  Other leave requirements such as (but not limited to):

Paternity Leave
Study Leave
Unpaid Leave

May very well be included in the Company policy, however this is not a legal requirement and is at the discretion of the employer.

Remember though, if you are not sure about what the requirements are, contact a Labour specialist – don’t just guess.  Guessing will usually end up costing you in the long run.