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Six Types of Mandated Leave according to the BCEA

Most employees enjoy their well-deserved break when annual leave time comes around and generally return to their workplace with a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm. While those who have been fortunate enough to enjoy a break from work and time away return feeling invigorated and ready to take on new challenges, it’s worth recognising that annual leave isn’t just a nice to have —it’s a legal obligation.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) outlines six types of mandated leave and in your payroll system, you might encounter various additional, discretionary leave options that companies can choose to extend to their employees. Essentially, the BCEA safeguards employees’ rights to annual leave. If an employer deviates from the BCEA and withholds leave without operational cause, it constitutes a violation of that employee’s rights.

The Pay Solutions Payroll services software comes equipped with the flexibility to incorporate some or all these leave options into your company’s payroll structure, depending on the organisation’s requirements. Configuring predefined leave choices is a straightforward process, allowing you to enable or disable them as needed. However, exercise caution not to disable any mandatory leave categories, such as annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave and leave due to incapacity or work-related injury.

In addition to the configuration of optional and required leave settings in your payroll system, employers should also incorporate comprehensive leave sections within their employment contracts. If your company’s employment contracts lack specific leave guidelines, incorporating them in the employment contract will establish clear directives for employees regarding their time off.

Allowing annual leave in the face of a possible back-log or looming deadlines, overburdening your staff without affording them proper rest and recovery can result in even more concerning adverse effects on your business. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act mandates that employees should be granted either three consecutive weeks or 15 consecutive working days of annual leave per year. In practice it acceptable to allow staff to take two consecutive weeks once a year, with the remaining days sporadically during the remainder of the year. In situations where operational demands necessitate it, employers can refuse leave requests, but employees should not forfeit their accrued leave as a result. This type of scenario can be defined in the company Leave Policy if not included in the Employment Contract, to avoid confusion. It’s important to note that some employers may uphold more generous leave provisions beyond the BCEA’s minimum requirements.

In cases where operational constraints prevent an employee from taking their annual leave, the employer can compensate by offering time off in lieu (TOIL) in exchange for the untaken leave, allowing employees to take time off work in exchange for the overtime they’ve worked. While not obligatory, this practice can be established through mutual agreement between the employer and employee or be included in the company’s leave policy.

It’s imperative to highlight that time off in lieu of annual leave should be availed within a reasonable timeframe after the due leave date, in accordance with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.