An employee working an average of 40 hours of per week is entitled to 192 hours of leave in addition to 8 hours announced in Budget 2018 and another 8 hours announced in Budget 2019. If such average normal hours (excluding overtime) is below or exceeds 40 hours per week, the vacation leave entitlement in hours should be adjusted accordingly.
The employee is also entitled to a total of fifteen hours with pay per year as time off for urgent family reasons. These hours are to be deducted from the annual leave entitlement of the employee. Such urgent leave has to be related to cases of sickness or accident to members of the immediate family of the employee. An employee is also entitled to other special leave such as marriage leave, birth leave, bereavement leave and leave for jury service.
By mutual agreement with the employer, leave can be taken in hours. Otherwise, if there is no agreement between the employer and the employee, leave has to be availed of as a whole day.
Though it is the employee’s right to choose when to apply for leave, the application for leave has to be approved by the employer before an employee can proceed with leave. The employer may approve or refuse an application for leave, taking into consideration the exigencies of work.
The employee should seek to utilise his/her vacation leave entitlement during the same calendar year when it is due. If not applied for, the employee cannot claim payment. It is only possible to carry forward up to 50% of the annual leave entitlement to the following year if there is an agreement with the employer.
The amount of sick leave varies according to the relevant sector of industry. The applicable amount of sick leave entitlement is provided in the relevant Wage Regulation Order that regulates the specific sector of industry; or where the sector is not covered by a Wage Regulation Order, an employee is entitled to two working weeks of sick leave annually (calculated in hours).
Employees are entitled to a maximum period of one year injury leave on full pay, unless the full amount of any injury benefit to which such employee may be entitled in terms of the Social Security Act, if s/he is injured during the actual discharge of his/her duties and not due to contributory negligence on her/his part or to any contravention of safety rules laid down by the employer. During such time, vacation leave and bonuses continue to accrue.
A pregnant employee can resort to maternity leave for an uninterrupted period of eighteen (18) weeks:
- First fourteen (14) weeks with full wages paid by the employer.
- Remaining four (4) weeks are optional and unpaid by the employer. However, if the employee chooses to avail herself of the four weeks optional maternity leave, or part thereof, the employee can apply for the Maternity Leave Benefit in terms of the Social Security Act to which the employee may be entitled.
On termination of maternity leave, the employee has the right to resume work in the post formerly occupied on the commencement of the maternity leave and if such post is no longer available, to a related post. Both male and female workers who have been at least 12 months in continuous service with their employer have the individual right to be granted unpaid parental leave on the grounds of birth, adoption, fostering or legal custody of a child to enable them to take care of that child for a period of four months until the child has attained the age of eight years.
The employer has the obligation to secure the health rights of female employees who have newborns in accordance with the law. An employee is entitled to time off without loss of pay or any other benefit, in order to attend antenatal examinations, if such examinations have to take place during her hours of work. Furthermore, if there are risks at work that could jeopardise the employee’s health and safety and/or the pregnancy, such employee is entitled to special maternity leave as long as the risk exists.
Nonetheless, a female employee who resigns from employment without good and sufficient cause within six months from the date she resumes work after availing herself of maternity leave, she shall be liable, to pay the employer a sum equivalent to the wages she received during such maternity leave.
If a public or national holiday falls on any day of rest between Monday and Friday it is to be added to the annual leave entitlement of the employee. However, if a public or national holiday falls on Saturday or Sunday which happens to be a day of rest, no additional day is added to the annual leave entitlement of the employee.