South Africa Leave Laws

April 12th 2024

In the dynamic landscape of labour law, South Africa presents a unique and comprehensive framework for leave entitlements for employees. This article delves into the intricate details of South Africa’s labour laws concerning various types of leave, covering both required and non-required leaves under different employment sectors. Understanding these laws is crucial for both employers and employees to ensure compliance and to foster a fair work environment.

This Article Covers:

South Africa Required Leave
South Africa Non-Required Leave

South Africa Required Leave

South Africa employers are legally obligated to grant specific types of leave to their employees. Below is a comprehensive overview of the different categories of mandated leave in South Africa:

Sick Leave (Public Employers) 

  • Eligibility: Full-time public employees in South Africa.
  • Duration: Typically, 30 days over a 3-year period. However, the accumulation and capping of sick leave may vary by specific public sector policies.
  • Circumstance for Utilising Leave: Can be used for personal illness or injury.

Holiday Leave (Public Employers) 

  • Eligibility: All state employees in South Africa.
  • Duration: Generally, South African public holidays as declared by the government.
  • Circumstance for Utilising Leave: Public holidays are days off. In cases where employees work on a public holiday, compensatory leave or additional pay is typically provided.

Annual Leave 

  • Eligibility: Available to all employees in South Africa, both in the public and private sectors.
  • Duration: Minimum of 21 consecutive days per annual leave cycle (or 1 day for every 17 days worked or 1 hour for every 17 hours worked).
  • Circumstance for Utilising Leave: For personal rest, travel, or other leisure activities.

Family and Medical Leave 

  • Eligibility: Employees in South Africa are entitled to family responsibility leave if they have been employed for longer than four months and work for at least four days a week.
  • Duration: Typically, 3 days of paid leave during each annual leave cycle.
  • Circumstance for Utilising Leave: Applicable for events like the birth of a child, sickness of a child, or death of an immediate family member.

Jury Leave 

  • Eligibility: All employees required to serve on a jury.
  • Duration: For the duration of the jury service.
  • Circumstance for Utilising Leave: Serving on a jury or being subpoenaed as a witness.

Voting Leave 

  • Eligibility: All workers in South Africa.
  • Duration: Typically, the time required to vote in any local, regional, or national election.
  • Circumstance for Utilising Leave: To participate in democratic elections.

Military Leave 

  • Eligibility: Employees who are members of the South African National Defence Force reserves.
  • Duration: Varies based on the requirement of the service or training.
  • Circumstance for Utilising Leave: For fulfilling military service obligations or attending required training.

South Africa Non-Required Leave

In South Africa, certain types of leave are at the discretion of the employer and are not mandated by law. These optional benefits may vary among companies and can be offered selectively to employees based on company policies. Some of the leaves include: 

Sick Leave (Private Employers)

In South Africa, private employers are not legally obligated to provide sick leave beyond the stipulations of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA). Any additional sick leave is entirely at the employer’s discretion. While some companies in South Africa may choose to offer additional sick leave benefits to their employees, such generosity is not a legal requirement but rather a reflection of the individual company policies and employee welfare considerations.

Holiday Leave (Private Employer)

In South Africa, private employers are not mandated to provide holiday leave or pay for public holidays not worked. Private employers may choose to offer holiday leave or pay employees for public holidays, but this is based on company policy rather than legal obligation by the law. 

Here is a table of official South Africa holidays:

Holiday Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Human Rights Day 21 March
Good Friday Varies (March/April)
Family Day Varies (March/April)
Freedom Day 27 April
Workers’ Day 1 May
Youth Day 16 June
National Women’s Day 9 August
Heritage Day 24 September
Day of Reconciliation 16 December
Christmas Day 25 December
Day of Goodwill 26 December

Bereavement Leave

In South Africa, there is no specific legal requirement for bereavement leave in the private sector. It is up to each individual employer to decide whether to offer bereavement leave and under what conditions. Some employers may offer paid or unpaid leave, while others may not provide any specific policy, reflecting a range of approaches in different industries.

If you want to know more about the entitlements of employees in South Africa, you can read our guide on South Africa Labour Laws, which covers each essential regulation in detail.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.