Family responsibility leave: All the details you need to know in 2022

Family responsibility leave: All the details you need to know in 2022

You deserve a family responsibility leave during each 12-month annual leave. The leave falls under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA). These off days allow you to attend to urgent family matters like injury, illness, and death. However, not all workers have the right to get a family responsibility leave. Rules and regulations determine what qualifies to have it and under what circumstances.

Family responsibility leave
A man and his wife teaching their child how to ride a bicycle. Photo: pexels.com, @Agung Pandit Wiguna
Source: UGC

Family responsibility leave improves the workers' mental health. These off days give employees peace of mind since they do not have to choose between work and their loved ones when facing unavoidable circumstances.

What is a family responsibility leave?

A family responsibility leave are paid off days per year granted to full-time employees who work more than four days per week and after four months of employment. It is an addition to any other leave entitlement like the annual and sick leaves.

How many days is a family responsibility leave in South Africa in 2022?

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Employees who have worked for more than four months and at least four days a week must get the three-day paid family responsibility leave during each leave cycle. The 5 days of family responsibility leave only applies to domestic workers who meet the requirements.

Basic Conditions of Employment Act for family responsibility leave

According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), a family responsibility leave in South Africa is only applicable:

  • During the birth of an employee's child.
  • If the worker's birth or adopted child (younger than 18 years) is sick.
  • Upon the death of the employee's spouse or a life partner.
  • If the worker's birth or adoptive parent dies.
  • When the employee's birth or adopted child passes on.
  • Upon the demise of the employee's birth or adopted grandchild.
  • If the worker's birth or adopted grandparent passes away.
  • When the employee's birth or adopted sibling dies.

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Please note that the BCEA labour law of South Africa does not cover off days for illness or death of any other relative in the family responsibility leave. Therefore, such cases are treated as annual leave or other types of leaves the worker is entitled to.

Additionally, BCEA's family responsibility leave only covers illness and death of loved ones and no other emergency. An accident can be treated as a sickness.

Family responsibility leave
A couple with their newborn baby in the hospital. Photo: pexels.com @BARBARA RIBEIRO
Source: UGC

Do I qualify for paid family leave?

Other conditions for someone to qualify for the family responsibility leave days are:

  • You must be covered by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).
  • You must have worked for more than 4 months.
  • You must have been working at least 4 days per week.

What proof is required for family responsibility leave?

Your employer is entitled to demand proof such as a death certificate, medical report from the hospital, or a birth certificate if you request a family responsibility leave.

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Do you get paid when taking family responsibility leave?

After submitting a proof, the employer must pay an employee for the family responsibility leave days using either of these criteria:

  • Pay the employee a wage they would ordinarily have received for work on that day.
  • Pay an employee’s usual pay for the day.

Who is exempted from the family responsibility leave?

According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, all workers exempted from the family responsibility leave are:

  • The National Defence Force
  • South African Secret Service
  • National Intelligence Agency
  • Unpaid volunteers doing charity work

Accrue all your family responsibility leave days or use them separately. You can also spend them as full days, a few hours, or exceed a day, but remember that the maximum allowable days are three.

However you spend your family responsibility leave, the hours you take should total three working days. Section 9 of the BCEA stipulates that an employee should not work for more than 45 hours per week.

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You should only work nine hours in a day (excluding lunch break) if it is a working week of five days or less, and eight hours in a day (excluding lunch break) if it is a working week of five days or more.

However, the section of the Act that regulates working hours does not apply to:

  • Workers in senior management.
  • Workers who work less than 24 hours in a month.
  • Sales staff who travel and control their working hours.
  • Workers engaged in emergency work are excluded from specific provisions.
  • Workers who earn more than an amount stated in section 6 (3) of the Act.
  • Workers in emergency jobs are excluded from specific conditions.
Family responsibility leave
A family and a pastor in a funeral service. Photo: pexels.com @Pavel Danilyuk
Source: UGC

Can family responsibility leave be denied?

Your employer has the right to reject your request for a family responsibility leave under these circumstances:

  • You have not worked for more than 4 months.
  • You have not been working at least 4 days per week.
  • You are not covered by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).
  • You fall in the category of employees exempted from the family responsibility leave, e.g. The National Defence Force.
  • You need it for relatives who are not your parent, sibling, spouse, or child.
  • You need it for reasons other than birth, death or illness.
  • You need it for more than three days stipulated by the labour law stipulates for family responsibility leave.
  • You lack proof for wanting a family responsibility leave.

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Is a notice required for family responsibility leave?

An employee planning to take leave should inform the employer in advance. You can also notify your employer that you cannot make it to work if the situation is unexpected. It is important to follow your organization's guidelines regarding off days.

Employer's entitlement proof for a family responsibility leave

Some companies analyze an employee's reasons for requesting a family responsibility leave and will only grant it to you if your situation is reasonable.

In some cases, an employee might look at your pattern of absences, the number of leave days you request per month, examine your evidence, request more proof, etc.

For instance, an employee seeking a leave because a family member suffered a car accident has to present a police report or an invoice given by an auto mechanic or a towing company. A medical report is not enough in this case because it might be a fake report.

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In the case of an illness or injury, employers should not demand medical notes from the employee. Therefore, your boss should not request you disclose your loved one's medical status. However, they can ask about your relationship with the loved one to determine if they are immediate family members.

Family responsibility leave
A patient recovering from surgery. Photo: unsplash.com @Sharon McCutcheon
Source: UGC

Do employees have any rights during the leave?

Here are some facts you should know about taking a leave:

  • An employer cannot penalize, fire, or even threaten a worker who has requested a family responsibility leave and was granted by the employer.
  • The employee can accumulate all leaves into an annual leave on full remuneration.
  • A family responsibility leave expires at the end of the annual cycle. Hence, you cannot postpone it to the following year.
  • A family responsibility leave does not cover basic medical procedures like routine visits to the dentist, blood tests, x-rays, etc.
  • The employer has the right to refuse any application for leave if it is not suitable at that time for the employee to take leave.

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What qualifies as a leave of absence?

A leave of absence is authorized time away from work for special circumstances in an employee's life. It may be paid or unpaid depending on what the labour laws of South Africa state.

How many family responsibility leave days can you get?

If you have been wondering, "how many days is a family responsibility leave in South Africa in 2022?" Domestic workers are entitled to 5 days while other workers get 3 days. All of them should meet the requirements for the leave.

Do not worry if you do not meet the requirements for a family responsibility leave. Some empathetic employers will grant you a special leave or any other type of leave they deem fit for your situation. Therefore, do not be afraid to approach your boss whenever you have pressing issues to attend to.

READ ALSO: How does sick leave work in South Africa 2022? Full guide

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Briefly.co.za also posted how a sick leave works in South Africa in 2022. A worker has the right to request some days off when when ill.

A disease is not the only reason you can be granted sick leave. For example, an injury from an accident, childbirth, mental illness, and other situations are enough to take sick leave.

Source: Briefly News

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