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Family responsibility leave – What is family responsibility leave, and when does it apply?

Family responsibility leave is governed by section 27 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 1997. Employees are entitled to 3 days of family responsibility leave per year, should the employee meet certain criteria:

  •  The employee must be a full-time or permanent employee;
  •  The employee must work over four days per week;
  •  The employee is only entitled to family responsibility leave after four months of employment.

However, an employer and employee may contractually agree that over three family responsibility days are granted per annual year cycle. However, there is no obligation on the employer to do so.

Should the employee’s family responsibility be leave not be utilised during the relevant 12-month period, it does not accumulate or roll over to the following year. It is separate from annual leave and sick leave. Family responsibility leave lapses if it is not necessary for the employee to use the same.

What does family responsibility leave include?

  •  A maximum of 3 days per year;
  •  The leave may be taken as a full day, or part thereof, depending on the circumstances;
  •  Leave when an employee’s child is sick (child is regarded as a person under 18 years of age);
  •  Death of the employee’s immediate family, including spouse or partner; grandparent; parent; or sibling;
  •  Death or illness of an immediate adoptive family;
  •  It does not include parents-in-law; however, the employer has the discretion to approve leave in this instance. However, the employer must be consistent with this matter with all employees.

The employer may decline family responsibility leave and alternatively request proof thereof.

Must proof of family responsibility leave be provided?
 * The employer is entitled to require proof;
 * The proof will include a medical certificate or death certificate.
Should the employee require over three days of family responsibility leave, as this is often the case when the employee may have to travel to the funeral, the employee will be required to take annual leave for the days exceeding three days.

About the author
Carla Delaney started her career at SEESA in November 2019. She is currently a Labour and Consumer Protection & POPI Legal Advisor at the SEESA De Aar branch. Carla is an Admitted Attorney, Notary and Conveyancer. The De Aar office in the Northern Cape has expanded its service offering to include Consumer and POPI-related services in addition to the labour services offered.

* Section 27 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 1997

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