Only Apply for Leave in Writing Our
enquiry this week comes from a reader who works for a company that has
recently come under new management.

The company has always had a policy whereby staff may not accumulate
more than thirty days of annual leave.

Some months ago, our reader verbally applied for leave with the area
manager and was told that it could not be authorised. She enquired
about the reasons and was informed that there was no one to assume her
duties while she was away.

Our reader then asked whether they would pay her out for the leave
days, but was told this was impossible.

She advised management that she would take the matter to her union for
further assistance. She was then informed that if she could prove that
she had applied for her leave in writing and was denied in writing, she
would be granted the time off, but, if not, she would have to forfeit

As she has no record of her application or of the area manager’s
response, she feels very hard done by.

She says she has been with the company for many years and has always
been treated fairly and wants to know whether the new management’s
actions are legal.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) states that, with the
exception of those who work fewer than 24 hours per week, employees,
irrespective of their status or remuneration, are entitled to leave of
at least 21 consecutive days per annual leave cycle.

At most companies, employees have to apply for leave in writing on a
proper leave form (some businesses even make use of an electronic

On this form, the employee will state whether he/she is taking annual,
sick or study leave and the relevant dates on which the leave is
required. This will be handed in to a direct manager or relevant
department for approval.

It is advisable to keep a copy for record purposes. Verbal leave
requests, as in our reader’s case, are not advisable as it leaves no
“paper trail”.

The employer and worker must agree on the timing of the leave. If they
are unable to, it is up to the employer to make the final decision.

Leave must be granted no later than six months after the end of the
annual leave cycle and employers may not pay workers instead of
granting leave, except on termination of employment – clearly the
reason why our reader was denied her request to be paid out.

Annual leave may not be taken during a period of sick leave or while an
employee is on notice of termination of service. An employer may also
not permit an employee to work while one leave.

Employees may, by agreement, receive pay for their leave before it
commences or on normal pay days.

Annual leave not taken during a particular cycle may be claimed during
subsequent cycles, provided that the contract of employment does not
contain a forfeiture clause.

& Rossouw Attorneys
in Port Elizabeth specialises in
the fields of labour relations and injuries on duty. The firm also
deals with all other legal matters.

to have
your labour
and other workplace related questions answered

courtesy of Coetzee Gouws from Full
Stop Communications

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