Sick Leave

Know more about labour laws about Sick Leave in South Africa. Check the FAQs on Sick Leave including sick leave policy, sick pay entitlement, medical leave rules
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Feeling ill? Need to see a doctor and have time off? Make sure you follow the sick leave rules.

How much Sick Leave do you have?

Sick leave works in a three-year cycle.  An employee may take one day’s sick leave for every 26 days worked during the first six months of employment and thereafter an employee may take the number of days he/she normally works in six weeks during every three year cycle. 

Basically, an employee is entitled to 30 (if he/she works five days a week) or 36 (if he or she works six days a week) days’ paid sick leave for every three-year sick leave cycle.

Who does this not apply to?

The provisions for sick leave do not apply to workers who work less than 24 hours a month, or workers who receive compensation for an occupational injury or disease. 

When do I need a Medical Certificate or Sick Note? 

An employee may be requested to produce a valid medical certificate if he/she has been absent from work for more than two days in a row or more than twice in eight weeks.  If the employee does not have a valid medical certificate, the employer does not have to pay the employee.  The medical certificate must be issued and signed by a medical practitioner or any other person who is certified to diagnose and treat patients and who is registered with a professional council established by an Act of Parliament.   

What should be covered in the Medical Certificate or Sick Note?

Although this is not in the Labour Legislation, the Ethical and Professional Rules of the Medical and Dental Professions Board of the Health Professions Council of South Africa provides the following instructions on the issuing of medical certificates or sick notes:

Rule 15:

(1)   A practitioner shall only grant a certificate of illness if such certificate contains the following information, namely:

  • The name, address and qualification of the practitioner
  • The name of the patient
  •  The employment number of the patient (if applicable)
  • The date and time of the examination
  • Whether the certificate is being issued as a result of personal observations by the practitioner during an examination, or as the result of information received from the patient and which is based on acceptable medical grounds
  • A description of the illness, disorder or malady in layman's terminology, with the informed consent of the patient:, provided that if the patient is not prepared to give such consent, the medical practitioner or dentist shall merely specify that, in his or her opinion based on an examination of the patient, the patient is unfit to work
  • Whether the patient is totally indisposed for duty or whether the patient is able to perform less strenuous duties in the work situation
  • The exact period of recommended sick leave
  •  The date of issuing of the certificate of illness 
  • A clear indication of the identity of the practitioner who issued the certificate which shall be personally and originally signed by him or her next to his or her initials and surname in printed or block letters.

(2)   If preprinted stationery is used, a practitioner shall delete words which are irrelevant.

(3)   A practitioner shall issue a brief factual report to a patient where such a patient requires information concerning himself or herself. 

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