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Annual Leave In South Africa: What You Need To Know

Zoe Papadakis

By Zoe Papadakis Nov 18, 2020 · 2 mins read

Annual Leave In South Africa: What You Need To Know
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There seems to be quite a bit of confusion surrounding the various aspects of annual leave. Can employers force employees to take annual leave? Does an employer have to pay employees in full if they take annual leave? How many days annual leave do employees get? These questions often float around the office and can cause conflict among staff. We have rounded up some of the most frequently asked questions regarding annual leave and provided the answers.

1. How many days annual leave do employees get?

According to the BCEA, an employee is entitled to 21 consecutive days of annual leave with their salaries paid in full.

This doesn’t mean they get 21 days of paid leave, because consecutive days include non-working days such as weekends.

If an employee works for five days a week they will receive 15 days of paid leave. If they work six days a week they will receive 18 days.

Basically, this means that an employee receives 1.25 days per month if they work five days a week or 1.5 days per month if they work six days a week.

2. What happens when public holidays fall during a period of annual leave?

If an employee happens to be on leave and a public holiday falls on a day during that time, then they are entitled to an extra day of annual leave for each public holiday.

3. When may annual leave be taken?

Leave may be taken during the employee’s leave cycle. It’s up to the employer when the leave may be taken. An employee cannot demand to take leave if the employer can’t do without them at that time.

If leave has not been taken during the employee’s annual leave cycle then it can carry forward to the next cycle. If leave has been carried forward then the employer must allow the employee to take that leave within the first 6 months of the new leave cycle. It’s still at the employers discretion when this leave can be taken, as long as they do allow the employee to take it within the first six months.

4. What happens with annual leave during a period of notice?

An employee cannot take leave during any period of notice and an employer cannot force them to do so. However, if the employer and employee both agree then annual leave may be taken during the notice period.

5. Can an employer make staff take leave during a period of annual shutdown?

Yes, if a company shutdowns down for a certain period of time each year the employer can require that employees take their leave during this time. If an employee has already taken their annual leave, then this can be treated as unpaid leave.

6. When does an employee’s annual leave cycle start?

The leave cycle is 12 months long, starting from the employee’s date of employment.

For example, if an employee was employed on the 1st July 2018 then their first leave cycle would be from the 1st July 2018 to the 30th June 2019. Their second leave cycle would start from the the 1st July 2019, and so on.