When can an employee take fully-paid leave to deal with family matters and not have it deducted from his/her annual leave entitlement?  This is often a source of confusion for both employers and employees, but it needn’t be.  The BCEA (Basic Conditions of Employment Act) sets everything out clearly, although note that some employers grant more favourable terms than the statutory minimums, either in their discretion or in terms of a “collective agreement” with a trade union.

Am I entitled to family responsibility leave? Yes, if you are covered by the BCEA (most employees are) and –

  • You have worked for over 4 months, and
  • You work 4 days a week or more.

When can I take it?

    • When your child is born (often referred to as “paternity leave” and not to be confused with “maternity leave” – more on that in a future newsletter), or
    • When your child (note that “child” means under 18 years old) is sick, or
    • In the event of the death of your spouse or life partner, parent or adoptive parent, grandparent, child or adopted child, grandchild or sibling.

How many days can I take? You have 3 days in each annual leave cycle – these days cannot be accumulated and lapse if not taken. What proof must I give my employer? Employers may require “reasonable proof” of the birth, illness or death. Small businesses: can you contract out? If you are a defined “small business” (i.e. you employ less than 10 employees, and conduct only one business which is not formed by division or dissolution of an existing business), you can agree in writing with your employees that family responsibility days will count against their annual leave.  This does not apply to domestic employees or public servants.