How Do We Approach Leave During The Lockdown Period?

Each organisation will have different leave policies suited to their particular needs. In this section we attempt to answer some of your questions relating to leave.

When do employees qualify for paid sick leave for COVID-19?

If an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 (confirmed by a medical doctor) or if they have symptoms and get booked off by a doctor, normal sick leave applies. The employee will be required to produce a medical certifcate from their doctor confirming the employee tested positive for the COVID-19 virus or is too sick to work.

If employees have run out of sick leave, they will be able to claim UIF illness benefits if they have been sick for more than 7 days. Note that they cannot claim the UIF illness benefit if they still have sick leave.

What if an employee is not sick, but placed under quarantine?

The employee will qualify for the new illness benefit under the UIF, or they can take annual leave. If the employee takes annual leave, they cannot claim from the UIF illness benefit. They will not automatically qualify for sick leave.

Can you force employees to take annual leave during the lock down?

If employees cannot work remotely you can ask them to take their annual leave.

Although it is not technically illegal to require them to take annual leave, it is discouraged. The Department of Employment and Labour issued a directive stating:

‘In as much as employers are within their rights to insist that employees take annual leave during the lockdown, as the department, we encourage employers not to request employees to utilise their annual leave credits for the lockdown, but to rather utilise the financial assistance that the Department has placed at their disposal through Covid-19 TERS in cases where companies cannot afford to pay employees.’

 

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