If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is regarded as a public holiday in terms of the Public Holidays Act. What is the position regarding the Sunday? Is it substituted by the Monday and therefore ceases to be a public holiday? Or is the Monday also a public holiday in addition to the Sunday?
The next public holiday falling on a Sunday is the 24th of September 2006 (Heritage Day).
Lawyers are divided among themselves on how to interpret the law on this issue. However, in a recent (as yet unreported) decision, Randfontein Estates Ltd v NUM, the Labour Court held that both the Sunday and the Monday should be regarded as public holidays.
The consequences are as follows:
- In the absence of an agreement to the contrary, an employee is not obliged to work on either day. The employee would nevertheless be entitled to a day’s pay for both days.
- If an employee works on both days, that employee should be paid public holiday rates for each of the two days. The amount payable is governed by Section 18 of the BCEA, or the provisions of the employment contract, or an applicable collective agreement, whichever is the most beneficial to the employee.
The decision has major implications for companies that conduct continuous operations.
Although we believe that the court decision is questionable and that it might be contested on appeal, it is law and should be adhered to while it stands.