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Get Labour Law Advice on Annual Leave Allowance in South Africa

If your employer does not want to grant you leave as allowed or required by law, then it is time to get some advice on labour law.

We briefly look at some of the important aspects regarding leave entitlement, but strongly recommend that you get labour law advice, should you have a dispute with your employer regarding your leave application.

Annual Leave

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) stipulates that you are not entitled to annual leave if you work less than 24 hours per month at your employer. If you qualify as an employee, then the provisions of the act regarding annual leave apply to you. Get labour law advice from our team of attorneys if you are unsure about whether you qualify as an employee or not.
The annual leave cycle commences on the first day of your employment, and repeats every 12 months if you are at the same employer. You are entitled to 21 consecutive days of leave per 12-month period. The leave is fully paid by the employer. Note that the annual leave includes weekends. Therefore, if you work five days a week, the leave period will be equal to 15 working days. If you work six days a week, then you will still have 21 consecutive days annual leave. This will be equal to 18 working days’ paid leave.

How the Annual Leave Accrual Works

If you work five days a week, you will be entitled to 1,25 days leave per month. This means that at the start of the 12-month annual leave cycle, you will have no days, but by the end of month one, you will have accrued 1,25 leave days, and by the end of month two, you will have 2,5 leave days, etc. If you work a six-day week, your annual leave will accrue at 1,5 days per month. In this instance, by the end of the second month of the 12-month annual leave cycle, you will have accrued three days of annual leave.

The annual leave accrual can also be calculated using the method of one hour for every 17 hours that you have worked. This method is often applied when having to calculate leave accrual for temporary or fixed-term employees. Note that the employer can only use this accrual calculation method if you have agreed to it. In the absence of the agreement, the employer must use the 1,25 or 1,5 days accrual calculation method. Get labour law advice if your employer has used the one hour for every 17 hours worked method without an agreement in place to do so.

How Public Holidays Affect Annual Paid Leave

The good news is that you will not miss a paid day off if the public holiday falls within your period of annual leave, provided it falls on a day that you normally work. If the public holiday is on a Sunday and you do not normally work on a Sunday, then unfortunately you will not be entitled to an extra day off. If it falls on one of your ordinary work days, then you are entitled to an additional day off. This means that instead of 21 consecutive days of annual leave, you will be entitled to 22 days of annual leave for the particular period. Get labour law advice on the topic if your employer does not want to give you the extra day of paid leave.

When is Annual Leave Due?

You do not have to wait until you have accumulated 21 consecutive days before you can take your annual leave. You can take as many consecutive days in your annual leave cycle as you have accumulated.

What Happens to Annual Leave Days Not Taken?

If the annual leave cycle is complete and you still have accrued days left, then those days carry on to your next leave cycle, unless you and your employer have another agreement. Get labour law advice if you have a dispute with your employer regarding your annual leave days entitlement.


NB – This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You are advised to consult with us before using/relying on this information. This information is relevant to the date of publishing – January 2018.

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