Question: If an employee is absent without leave or good reason,
may an employer reduce the employee’s annual leave entitlement?
Answer: No. If the employee did not apply for leave the absence
should be regarded as absence without pay (unpaid leave),
unless the employee has subsequently applied for annual leave
for that period.
Brief explanation: In terms of Section 20(3) of the
Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), an employee is entitled
to take leave that has accumulated in an annual leave cycle on consecutive days.
If an employee is absent without having been granted leave or good reason
(it not being a case of legitimate sick leave or family responsibility leave),
it would be wrong for the employer to unilaterally reduce the employee’s
annual leave entitlement. Instead, the absence should be unpaid
(and the employer may take appropriate disciplinary action).
However, if the employee requests for that leave to be ‘occasional leave’,
it may be set off against the employee’s annual leave
(Section 20(7) of the BCEA).
By Jan Truter of www.labourwise.co.za