FORFEITURE OF ANNUAL LEAVE
Can annual leave be forfeited? The answer is YES, a non-statutory annual leave can be forfeited.
By Saai Mahlangu
Leave in excess of the statutory minimum is not regulated by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), but by the contract of employment. The parties can therefore determine by agreement how much leave may be accumulated, when it would be forfeited, etc.
In terms of the BCEA an employee is entitled, in respect of every 12 months leave cycle, to 21 calendar days’ leave. Meaning, “The number of working days’ leave to which the employee is entitled is equivalent to that which the employee would normally work in a three week period”. The employer is obligated to grant annual leave not later than six months after the end of the annual leave cycle.
The employee should apply for all the annual leave accrued in the most recent leave cycle, and this must be taken within the 6 month period after the end of the leave cycle. If the employer refuses to grant such leave, the employee may approach their union representative or alternatively the Department of Labour to assist with enforcement. If the employee fails to apply for leave or the employee does not go on leave, such leave would be forfeited.