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Can an employee take all his sick leave or must it be pro-rated?

One of the common questions regarding sick leave is: Can an employee take all his sick leave or must it be pro-rated? Read on to find out what labour law says about this.

The answer to this leave question is as follows:

An employee is allowed to take his full sick leave allowance at the beginning of the sick leave cycle – that is, it is not pro-rated over a period of time. For example, if an employee gets seriously ill and takes 30 days’ sick leave in the first month of the sick leave cycle. If he does this, it means he would not be entitled to any more paid sick leave for the remainder of the sick leave cycle. Further sick leave will be unpaid unless agreed otherwise in terms of the employment contract, a policy or a collective agreement.

It must be kept in mind that sick leave does not accumulate. If an employee has not used up his sick leave at the end of the sick leave cycle it will be forfeited.

Here are the important points to remember regarding sick leave

During an employee’s first six months of employment, he is entitled to one day’s paid sick leave for every 26 days worked.

After that, the employee is entitled to an amount of paid sick leave equal to the number of days he would normally work during a period of six weeks during a 36 month cycle – also called ‘the sick leave cycle’.

An employer does not have to pay an employee for sick leave if he has been absent from work for more than two consecutive days or on more than two occasions during an eight-week period and, on the employer’s request, does not produce a medical certificate.

Knowing what labour law says about sick leave will help ensure that employers are in line with the law.