NEWS & ANALYSIS

Employers are not allowed to compel workers to take annual leave – COSATU

Federation says during the lockdown, leave is not supposed to come from annual, sick or other leave

Employers are not allowed to compel workers to take annual leave during the shutdown

25 March 2020

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted with concern that many employers are forcing workers to take annual leave during shutdown. Employers are not allowed to compel workers to take annual leave during the shutdown.  Government, Organised Labour and Business Unity SA have agreed that all non-essential workers are to be placed on special leave during the shutdown.  This is not supposed to come from annual, sick or other leave.  Employers must pay workers the wages due to them and continue to pay them during this compulsory shut down. All non-essential workers must be given paid special leave by employers

COSATU condemns all employers compelling workers to take their annual leave during the national 21 day shut down. The President in his public address on the 23rd March 2020 called on all businesses to take care of workers during this 21-day shut down.

Some callous employers have responded to this call by ignoring the pleas of the President and have prioritized their businesses over the national interest and are victimizing the workers in the process.

Employees are not compelled to take annual leave for the purpose of the shut-down, given the special circumstances surrounding the shut-down. The Minister of Employment and Labour has announced measures that the Department will put in place as required under the current special circumstances relating to the coronavirus.

The unemployment Insurance fund will compensate affected workers through a new “national disaster benefit” and other existing benefits including illness, reduced work time and unemployment benefits.  

Employers must pay the UIF benefits to employees during the shutdown and they will receive a reimbursement from the UIF.

COSATU reiterates that employers may NOT compel workers to take annual leave during the 21-day shutdown. We further call on all workers that have been bullied into taking their leave for the purpose of shut down to report such employers to COSATU. All delinquent employers will be reported to the Minister and Department of Employment and Labour.

Issued by Sizwe Pamla, National Spokesperson, COSATU, 25 March 2020