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What’s the deal with Annual Leave?
Frequently Asked Questions about Annual Leave

Franchise Finder

Annual leave is important for rest and recuperation and, in the long term, it promotes productivity in the workplace. It’s so important for workers’ wellbeing, in fact, that it’s an employee’s right to have annual leave and an employer’s obligation to ensure that it’s taken. Here’s what you should know about annual leave:…

What is annual leave?

Annual leave is a period of paid time-off, to which every employee is entitled.

Is annual leave regulated by law?

Yes, annual leave is regulated by The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) applies to all employers and workers, except those people who are members of the National Defence Force, National Intelligence Agency, South African Secret Service, or those engaged in unpaid work for charity.

To how much annual leave is an employee entitled?

According to the BCEA, workers must get annual leave of at least:

  • 21 consecutive days (on full pay) – this amounts to 15 working days for workers working five day weeks and 18 days for workers working 6 day weeks.
  • One day for every 17 days worked
  • One hour for every 17 hours worked.

Can I refuse to grant annual leave to an employee if it doesn’t suit me?

While Section 20 of the BCEA stipulates that both the employer and the employee must agree on when the annual leave is taken, if they cannot agree, the employer holds the final say. However, annual leave must be granted no later than six months after the end of the annual leave cycle. Annual leave cycles are twelve month periods, with the same employer, from the date of employment or from the end of the previous leave cycle.

Can I insist that my workers take their annual leave over my annual shutdown period?

Many businesses in South Africa shut down during December. In such cases, employers are allowed to stipulate that annual leave coincides with the shutdown period.

Should I have a company annual leave policy?

It’s wise to have an annual leave policy to ensure clarity. Such a policy needs to comply fully with the BCEA, but could stipulate leave offered over and above the minimum statutory requirements, as well as such issues as whether annual leave must be taken over a shutdown period or how leave can be accumulated. It’s up to employers to monitor annual leave usage by their employees and to ensure that their employees take their leave in accordance with this policy, and the duty of employees to ensure that they use their annual leave entitlement. Workers should have access to this policy, for their reference.

Can workers accumulate leave?

The BCEA exists to promote social justice in the workplace. Not only do workers have a right to paid annual leave, but they should be encouraged to take it, and not accumulate it. Many organisations offer annual leave in excess of the minimum requirements laid down in the BCEA and, in such cases, they may stipulate (in the company annual leave policy) how much of this may be carried over into a new leave cycle.

Can I pay workers, rather than granting them annual leave?

No, annual leave cannot be exchanged for cash. The exception is when the contract of employment is terminated and the employee has annual leave due to him or her. In this case, the employer must compensate the worker for leave days due.

Are temporary employees entitled to holiday pay?

Temporary workers who work more than 24 hours a month for an employer are also entitled to annual leave, paid in full. Annual leave is accrued as follows:

  • One hour of leave for every 17 hours worked, or
  • One day of leave for every 17 days worked, or
  • 1.24 days for every month worked.

Only workers who work less than 24 hours a month for an employer are denied annual leave benefits.

Are public holidays included in annual leave?

No, a public holiday cannot be counted as annual leave. Any public holidays which fall within a worker’s annual leave period are in addition to the number of days leave taken.

Are workers entitled to any other leave, other than annual leave?

Yes, workers are entitled to sick leave, maternity leave and family responsibility leave.

Author: Franchise Finder, Online Directory of Franchises and Business Opportunities in South Africa


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