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Karin got tick-bite fever while on holiday and is now asking for an annual leave reversal. Do you have to grant it?

by , 23 March 2015
The first thing Karin from your marketing department did this morning was march into your office with a sick note indicating she'd been booked off for ten days due to tick bite fever.

But you're confused.

How could her sick note affect you? After all, she's been off work for two weeks on annual leave.

Here's how labour law says you need to handle this situation...

 

Is your employee entitled to more annual leave if she was sick while on holiday?

 
In terms of labour law, this is a sticky situation. 
 
Why?
 
Well there's a widely held belief that your employee is entitled to sick leave pay for absence if he/she was ill or injured during annual leave. 
 
But when you look closer at labour law, you'll see this isn't the case. 
 
According to Section 22(5)(a) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1997: An employer must pay an employee the wage for a day's sick leave the employee would ordinarily have received for work on that day. 
 
And that means that sick leave entitlement can only arise in circumstances where the employee WOULD have worked if it weren't for injury or illness. 
 
Since Karin was on annual leave when she got sick, she wasn't working or 'required to work' during that period. 
 
And that means not only do you NOT have to pay her sick leave, you don't have to give her more annual leave days either. 
 
But how do you tell her this without upsetting an already delicate situation?
 
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Avoid this situations entirely! Make sure your sick leave policy covers this situation

 
To ensure your employees don't ask for more annual leave in a situation like this, make it clear in your sick leave policy what your company's stance on this situation is.
 
Use this clause to do just that:
 
'Illness during annual leave: If an employee falls ill while on annual, family responsibility or maternity leave, these leave periods will not be extended by the number of days that the employee was ill for.'
 
There you have it. 
 
Don't let your employees take you for a ride and demand more leave than they're entitled to. With water-tight HR policies and procedures, you can prevent labour law hassles like this one. 
 

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