A family responsibility leave falls under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) and allows you to attend to urgent family matters like injury, illness, and death. Not all workers have the right to get compassionate leave, and SA's labour law on family responsibility leave determines under what circumstances one qualifies to have it.
A compassionate or 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. Please note that you must request this leave from your employer in writing.
What is a family responsibility leave in South Africa?
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 for family responsibility leave?
Employees who have worked for more than four months and at least four days a week must get the three-day paid compassionate 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
SA's labour law on family responsibility leave has a section called the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), which outlines conditions one must meet to get this leave. Family responsibility leave in South Africa is only applicable under these circumstances:
- 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 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.
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 compassionate 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.
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?
Do you get paid when taking family responsibility leave?
After submitting proof, the employer must pay an employee for the compassionate leave days using either of these criteria:
- Pay the employee a wage they would ordinarily have received for work 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 compassionate 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 compassionate leave, the hours you take should total three working days. Section 9 of the BCEA stipulates that employees should not work more than 45 hours per week.
You should only work nine hours a day (excluding lunch break) if it is a working week of five days or less and eight hours 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 the following:
- 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.
Can family responsibility leave be denied?
According to the BCEA family responsibility leave law, your employer has the right to reject your request for a compassionate 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 compassionate 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 compassionate leave.
- You lack proof for wanting a family responsibility leave.
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.
How to write a family responsibility leave letter
You can email your boss a family responsibility leave letter requesting to be exempted from work to attend to your family. Check out this example:
A compassionate leave letter sample
|REF: Leave of Absence Request — Kamogelo AmogelangDear Madam Keitumetse Bandile,I am requesting a leave of absence from work from April 10, 2023, to April 14, 2023, due to unexpected family circumstances. I plan to return to the office on April 17, 2023, and would appreciate assistance with planning how to catch up with my colleagues when I am back. If approved, I will be grateful for your consideration.Yours sincerely,Kamogelo Amogelang.|
Employer's entitlement proof for family responsibility leave
Some companies analyze an employee's reasons for requesting a compassionate 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 fake.
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.
Do employees have any rights during the leave?
Here are some facts you should know about taking compassionate 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.
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 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 hesitate to approach your boss whenever you have pressing issues.
Briefly.co.za also posted how sick leave works in South Africa. A worker has the right to request some days off 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