Can an Employer force an Employee to take leave?
Employers are allowed to force employees to take their annual leave at a specific time.
Forced leave is most noticeable during December when companies close
and force employees to take a portion of their annual leave.
Paid vs. Unpaid leave
- Forced leave will usually be paid leave
- Forcing an employee to take unpaid leave may be deemed as a temporary lay-off
The Employment Contract
The Employment Contract may stipulate when unpaid leave will be applied. Some examples:
- Where an employee has used up their paid leave and the company is closed for a period in which annual leave should ordinarily be taken.
- During parental leave (incl. maternity).
- When the Employee used up all their sick leave.
- When the Employee cannot supply a sick note on specified days.
The Employment Contract may also provide rules related to leave accrual which implies that an Employer may force an employee to take leave within a specific leave period.
Employers MUST allow an employee the minimum annual leave days and an employee may be forced to take them within a specified period.
Minimum leave requirements are stipulated in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and can be summarised as follows:
The following are the minimums applicable to an employee working more than 24 hours per month *
- Annual paid leave – 21 consecutive days per year (15 working days if working a 5-day work week)
- Sick leave – 30 days over a 36-month period
- Parental leave – 10 days (unpaid, unless contract stipulates otherwise)
- Maternity leave – minimum of four consecutive months (unpaid, unless contract stipulates otherwise)
- Adoption leave – 10 consecutive weeks
- Family responsibility leave – 3 days per year (only if employee works at least four days per week)
PLEASE NOTE THAT EXPLICIT RULES ARE APPLICABLE TO THE ABOVE.
** PLEASE CONSULT ONE OF OUR EXPERTS FOR MORE INFORMATION **
How can we help Employers?
- We assist with the risk management process and look at the business holistically
- We can provide you with best practice employment contracts
- We can advise on the rules applicable to different categories of leave
- We can answer any specific leave-related questions
The information shared on this article/blog/vlog should be read and understood within the current legal framework of South Africa. It is meant purely for educational discussion and does not amount to legal advice. For specific legal advice, please consult a legal practitioner prior to application.