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An employee with another religion asks for time off. What's your company policy on this?

by , 20 March 2015
Here in South Africa, companies are used to giving their employees time off for Christian religious holidays like Easter and Christmas..

But what do you do if your employees have other religions and need time off for their religious holidays?

Read on to find out...

Should you grant employees religious leaves or tell them to use annual leave?


Jewish... Muslim... Christian... Other. When it comes to religious holidays, knowing when you will grant religious leave and when you won't can become pretty tricky.

Here's our solution for you:

Implement a Religious Holidays Leave Policy to make sure there's no confusion about how leave will be allocated.

Down below, you'll find two sample templates for different company leave policies on religious holidays!

Here are two Religoius Leave Policy templates you can use

Religoius Leave Policy #1: Religious leave is taken as annual leave

Policy 1:
The Company recognises that employees may wish to observe festivals and holy days required by their religious beliefs. The Company will not unreasonably refuse employees annual leave for the purpose of practising their religion.

Nevertheless, in order to cater for the operational requirements of the Company such leave:

1. Must be applied for in terms of the annual leave policy, i.e. one week prior if leave required is one day and three weeks prior if leave is two or more days.

2. Timing of leave periods must take into account the demands of the job during the period applied for. Leave forms must be completed in advance and approved in terms of the annual leave policy.

3. The employee must ensure that they have sufficient accrued leave to cover the number of days leave required.

4. Unpaid leave will only be granted in exceptional cases.

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Religoius Leave Policy #2: Religious leave is granted as special leave

The company recognises that employees may wish to observe festivals and holy days required by their religious beliefs. In order to accommodate these requirements all employees will be entitled to 3 days special leave regardless of their religious beliefs and such special leave may be used for any purpose.

The company will not unreasonably refuse employees special leave for the purpose of practicing their religion. However, in order to cater for the operational requirements of the company such leave:

1. Must be applied for at least one week prior if special leave of one day is required and three weeks prior if leave is two or more days.

2. Timing of special leave periods must take into account the demands of the job during the period applied for. Leave forms must be completed in advance and approved before embarking on the leave.  

3. Special leave will not be granted after the fact. Should the employer not have approved leave prior to embarking on leave, disciplinary action will be considered.

4. Where leave in excess of three days is required, the employee may apply for annual leave in terms of the Annual Leave Policy. Unpaid leave will only be granted in exceptional cases.

There you have it. How you choose to deal with religous leave requests is up to you. Just make sure your company has a policy in place that states your intentions and that you stick to it.

P.S. For more details on how to treat religious holidays so you don't land up at the CCMA for an unfair labour practise case, turn to your Labour Watch Newsletter. Don't have a copy yet? Click here


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