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If you're thinking of asking your employees to work over the Easter Holidays, read this first!

by , 16 March 2015
It's not a long way to go till Easter and Kerry, your Assistant Manager, has already booked a flight to visit her best friend in Cape Town. She hasn't seen her in more than two years and Kerry is looking forward to those days off. She's so excited that she couldn't wait to tell her friends at work. But for you, this isn't happy news.

You have so much work to cover and you need her there. In fact, you've just written her a letter to tell her she'll need to work that weekend. Now what?

In this article, we're going to show you how to solve this dilemma by telling you all about your legal options in case you're planning to ask her to give up her plans and come to work on the Easter weekend.  

Here's what the law states about working on a public holiday

First, keep in mind that according to labour law, public holidays can't  be counted as annual leave and your employees are entitled to them in addition to any other public period, whether fixed by any law, agreement or custom. This means that your employee is not required to work on these days.

The law also stipulates that work during a public holiday is entirely voluntary, so an employee can't be forced to work on these days. This applies to all kinds workers, including domestic workers. So, in case you're planning to dismiss your employee for refusing to work during such days, don't get too hasty. Labour courts would consider this as unfair dismissal and you might have to face government's intervention to put things in order.

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In terms of payment and compensation, the law states that in cases where your employees do work on public holidays, they are entitled to paid days off in return, either on the day immediately preceding or on the one following the public holiday. Otherwise you must pay them double the hourly rate of earnings multiplied by the number of hours worked.

There are a few exceptions where, whether by virtue of an agreement or custom, it is normal for an employee to work on any day declared to be a paid public holiday (for example if you run a shop and the centre you operate is open on public holidays). In such cases, she is entitled to payment of wages at a rate determined by collective agreement or contract of service. In some institutions, workers are paid extra for working on a public holiday, up to double the normal rate. 

Don't forget! Easter Holidays this year fall on the  following days:
  • 2 April - Good Friday
  • 3 April - Holy Saturday
  • 4 April - Easter
  • 5 April - Easter Monday
So there you have it. Unless you have an agreement with Kerry that states she will work on public holidays, you'll be contravening labour law and this will land you in big trouble. 

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