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Does the death of an "in-law" qualify for family responsibility leave?

by , 12 November 2015
How often have you had this question: 'My brother-in-law passed away and I need to take family responsibility leave go to the funeral'. And what is your immediate reaction? Yes? No?

If your answer is 'no', then you're 100% correct! Let's see why…

***
'My husband's sister's boyfriend's mother's uncle just passed away and I need to go to the funeral'
 
What do you do when Jenny asks for time off for a funeral? You know it isn't her blood relative, but it is a distant relative. Bob's father-in-law passes away and he asks for time off. Craig's wife is ill and he needs to take her to hospital.
 
If you've granted family responsibility leave in any of these circumstances, you're just like most managers I know. But, here's what you don't know...
 
You don't have to give family responsibility leave in these situations! 
 
To ensure your employees don't take you for a ride, you need to know exactly when you have to give employees family responsibility leave and when you don't.

***
Case Law: Public Servants Association on behalf of Jonase and Department of Justice & Constitutional Development (2011) 32 ILJ 1271 (BCA)
 
The arbitrator had to look at the Public Service Resolution 7 of 2000. This deals with family responsibility leave (FRL) and has similar allowances as section 27 of the BCEA.
 
  • An employee applied for three days' family responsibility leave. This was after the death of his brother-in-law.
  • Initially the company accepted this. But later took the three days off his annual leave instead.
  • He referred a dispute to arbitration. He said they had to look at the interpretation of the LRA and applying the relevant collective agreement.
  • He said that under Xhosa customary law, his brother-in-law is a family member. And so it was his 'sibling'.
  • In this case, the Commissioner said the BCEA and the Resolution limits the leave to immediate family. This is a: Parent; Adoptive parent; Grandparent; Child; Adopted child; Grandchild; or Sibling.
  • If it meant to include other members by operation of law, it would include this.
  • And so the employee wasn't entitled to FRL when it came to the death of his brother-in-law.
 
So there you have it… Even courts stick to the outline of immediate family when it comes to family responsibility leave.

 


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