Annual Leave and Shutdown Periods

What do you know about annual leave in South Africa? Find out information about annual leave entitlement, minimum holiday entitlement, leave policy, holiday pay
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Feel like taking a break? Or is your company shutting down for the holidays? Find out your rights in the workplace.

How long is Annual Leave and when can I take it?

The following are the ground rules:

  • Employees who work for 24 hours or more a month for the same employer may take annual leave.
  • Every employee is entitled to 21 consecutive days annual leave on full pay in every leave cycle.  This equates to 15 working days per annum if the employee works a five-day week, and 18 working days per annum if the employee works a six-day week.
  • A "leave cycle" means a period of 12 months commencing from the first day of employment or commencing from the end of the previous leave cycle.
  • Whatever number of normal working days falls within that, 21 consecutive days is the number of working days that the employee must be paid for.
  • Employers may not pay workers instead of granting leave, except on termination of employment.
  • Public holidays are not counted as leave.
  • Annual leave is accrued - meaning that the number of days to which the employee is entitled starts at zero and increases with the passage of time as the leave cycle progresses. Therefore, at the start of the leave cycle the employee would have zero days leave due to him/her.
  • There are two methods of calculating the accrual of annual leave as the leave cycle progresses.  The first may only be applied with the prior agreement of the employee: On the 17th day of the leave cycle, the employee would have accrued one day leave. It should be noted that this method of accrual may only be applied by agreement with the employee. On the passage of every 17 days after that, another one-day annual leave accrues to the employee's benefit.
  • If there is no other agreement with the employee, then the accrual is allowed at 1, 25 days per month in the case of a five-day week worker, or 1, 5 days per month for a six-day week worker and so on.  No employee agreement is required to apply this method of accrual.
  • Annual leave may only be taken by agreement between the employer and employee.
  • In the absence of any such agreement, annual leave must be taken at a time to suit the employer. This means that the employer is entitled to have a policy stating that a certain period will be regarded as a shutdown period, and employees are required to take annual leave for the period of closure.

What about Annual Leave and Shutdown?

Many employers have a shutdown period over December. If this is the case, the employer is entitled to stipulate that annual leave must be taken to coincide with the shutdown period. Should an employee take their annual leave at another time during the year, then the shutdown period will be treated as unpaid leave.

Do I get paid during Annual Leave?

An employee must be paid in full during leave.  Leave pay should be paid before the leave starts or on an employee’s normal payday. If an employee leaves the job he/she must be paid for any leave accrued but not taken at a rate of one day’s pay for every 17 days worked.

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Find out all about state Minimum Wages for all official sectors.


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