Frequent December break Labour questions

22 December 2022 15:00 by Kayla Pashiou

As companies prepare for the December break, questions about bonuses, leave, working on public holidays, misconduct and other issues naturally come to the fore.

Written by Kayla Pashiou, Managing Director at Pashiou Incorporated, for LexisNexis South Africa

  1. Are bonuses compulsory?

    Bonuses are usually given at the discretion of the employer. It is, however, important to check an employee’s employment contract to ascertain the exact agreement on bonuses. If there is no clause in the employment contract, it is entirely up to the employer as to whether they wish to give their employees a December bonus.

  2. Do employers have to give leave over December?

    Some companies do not close over the December period and therefore employees may be required to work over December. This leave, however, will be carried over to the next year. It is important for employers to include a forfeiture of leave clause in employment contracts. That is, if the carried over leave is not used by April of the following year such leave will be forfeited. If employers do not have this clause such leave will need to be paid out should the employee ever leave their employment.

    Employers may not pay workers instead of granting leave, except on termination of employment.

  3. What happens if I am required to work on a Public Holiday?

    Public holidays are regulated in terms of section 18 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997. If an employee agrees to work on a public holiday, he/she must be paid double their wage for the day, or alternatively be given a full day off amounting to one full day of leave, which will be over and above their annual leave.

  4. If an employee commits a misconduct over the December period inside or outside working hours, can they be charged?

    Yes. It is important to consider the employer’s disciplinary code and procedure. Any misconduct that brings the company’s name into disrepute may be charged even if such misconduct is outside of ordinary working hours.

  5. Annual leave and shutdown periods – what are the Labour laws?
  6. Employees who work for 24 hours or more in a month may take annual leave. Every employee is entitled to 21 consecutive days (15 working days) annual leave on full pay in every leave cycle of 12 months. This may be increased according to the specific employee, the title they hold, or their length of service in the company.

    If employers have a shutdown period, employees may be requested to take their annual leave over this time. This may be stipulated in an employment contract. If this shutdown period and annual leave are communicated to the employee, and if employees exhaust their annual leave earlier in the year, the shutdown period will be treated as unpaid leave.

Kayla Pashiou
Managing Director at Pashiou Incorporated