Conditions of Employment


Sick Leave

André Claassen

Sections 22 (1) through 22 (4) are reasonably clear. During every 36 months cycle, commencing from the first day of employment, the employee is entitled to be given paid sick leave equal to the number of days he normally works in a six-week period.


Therefore, if the employee works a five-day week, then his sick leave entitlement in every 36 months cycle is 30 days on full pay. If he works a six day week, then his entitlement is 36 days on full pay.


During the first 6 months of employment, the employee is entitled to only 1 day paid sick leave in every 26 days worked. Any sick leave days taken during the first six months of employment is deducted from the full 36 months entitlement.


On the first working day of month number 7, the balance of the full entitlement kicks in and is available to the employee.  The employee can use those sick leave days at any time required over the next 2,5 years, or if it is the second cycle, over the next 3 years.


Employers must note that the sick leave is not 10 days per year, or 12 days per year, or 0, 83 days per month. 


It is 30 days (or 36 days) in every three year cycle. If the employee uses up all his available sick leave at the beginning of the cycle, or during a cycle, then he has no more sick leave available for the balance of those 36 months - and therefore any further requirement will be taken as unpaid leave.


Employers are not advised to allow more than the statutory 30 or 36 days sick leave. If this allowance is increased, employers can rest assured that the employees will make good use of it.


Subject to section 23, an employer must pay an employee for a day's sick leave: the wage the employee would ordinarily have received for work on that day; and  on the employee's usual pay day.


Payment for sick leave is calculated at the employee's normal wage rate or normal salary. To convert monthly payment to a daily rate, the monthly gross before deductions is divided by 4.3, which gives a weekly rate, and in the weekly rate is divided by 5 which gives a daily rate.  The daily rate is divided by the number of hours ordinarily worked in a day, to arrive at an hourly rate.


Weekly wages are simply divided by 5 to arrive at a daily rate. An agreement may reduce the pay to which an employee is entitled in respect of any day's absence in terms of this section if: the number of days of paid sick leave is increased at least commensurately with any reduction in the daily amount of sick pay; and the employee's entitlement to pay for any day's sick leave is at least 75 per cent of the wage payable to the employee for the ordinary hours the employee would have worked on that day; and for sick leave over the sick leave cycle is at least equivalent to the employee's entitlement in terms of subsection (2).


Some employers reach agreement with the employees that payment for sick leave will be at, for example, 75% of the employee's normal wage.


In return for the employee's agreement, the sick leave entitlement is then increased by 25%, thus allowing employees 37, 5 or 45 days sick leave in every three years cycle.


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