You don’t do yourself or your colleagues any favours by going to work when ill. But you don’t want to lose pay or get into trouble by staying home, either. So it’s good to know what you can and should do.

In all the excitement of getting a new job there are a few questions many of us forget to ask. Among them are how sick leave works. It’s a good thing to do that now, so you know your rights when you wake up too sick to go in.

Labour laws are constantly updated and your boss should let you know what changed. But as things stand now, here’s an idea of what you’re entitled to.

South Africa and Namibia have more or less the same rules. Sick leave works in a three-year cycle. Basically, an employee is entitled to 30 (working five days per week) or 36 (working six days per week) days of paid sick leave for every cycle.

If you’re off for more than two days in a row, you might have to bring in a valid medical certificate. If you don’t, the employer doesn't have to pay you.

You might not get paid for sick leave during your first six months in Lesotho. After that you can get up to 12 days for the next six months. Then it becomes up to 12 days with full pay and up to 24 days on half pay per 12 months. You have to present a medical certificate, though.

In Botswana, you only qualify for the 14 days after having worked continuously for 12 months and you need a certificate as proof if you’re absent for more than 24 hours. After three months of employment in eSwatini, you can get 14 days at full pay and 14 days at half pay.

Staying home to recover from the previous night’s party could cost you if you really get sick soon after. In South Africa, for instance, you need a certificate as proof if you take sick leave more than once in a period of eight weeks. And once you’ve used up your sick days, more time off can be deducted from your annual leave. It could be regarded as unpaid time off or your employer could dismiss you for incapacity.

If you can, tell employers well in advance when you have to take off for, say, an operation or having a baby. See our article on parental leave for how much paid time you can take off as a new parent. Your local laws might also provide for family responsibility or compassionate leave of a few days per year.

Just as you usually can’t know when you’ll be too sick to work, you probably can’t predict how long before you’ll be on your feet again. That’s why it’s good to protect yourself by saving a bit every month for emergencies. Unemployment insurance will also help if you become seriously ill, so make sure you know how to use it (see our article about UIF).

Since you might not be able to save enough and UIF won’t pay out your full salary, think about an income protection cover. If you’re sidelined by a temporary illness or injury, this kind of cover could provide up to 100 percent of your full salary, tax-free and paid out monthly for a specified time.

Look around, though, and talk to a financial adviser to make sure you get a good, affordable deal that will really help when you need it.


SICK LEAVE AND YOUR RIGHTS SICK LEAVE AND YOUR RIGHTS Reviewed by Jet Club on January 23, 2020 Rating: 5
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