Background in Legislation

Section 23 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act No. 75 of 1997 (the “BCEA”) says that an employee is required to produce a medical certificate as proof of illness should he/she be absent from work for more than 2 consecutive days. Should the employee be unable to obtain a medical certificate from a registered health practitioner under these circumstances, such an employee may not apply for “sick leave” but may make use of “annual leave”.

Working a Normal Day

If you suspected that you were Covid-19 positive, took the test and are awaiting your result whilst working from home, no leave may be deducted if you have not put in leave. In this case, you will be considered to have worked a normal day.

Sick Leave Vs. Annual Leave

If you were exposed to someone that is confirmed as being Covid-19 positive, you will be required to self-isolate, take the test and not come into the office until you have received your test result as being negative. This would constitute “sick leave” as long as you have the necessary medical doctor’s note booking you off from working in the office as alluded to in Section 23 of the BCEA.

If you are able to work from home but fail to work during the period pending your test result which results in a negative result, then such time should be taken as “annual leave”.

For example, if you found out about being exposed to someone that is Covid-19 positive on a Thursday and decided to quarantine the next day (Friday) and only went to get tested on the following Tuesday, the Friday and Monday would be considered to be “sick leave” should you test positive and “annual leave” should you test negative.

No “Work-From-Home” Infrastructure?

If your company has not provided any infrastructure plan for you to work from home you would need to consult a medical doctor to get the test form, complete the test and await the results. Regardless of the result, for work purposes, you would need to produce a “sick note” from the medical doctor if you have been booked off for taking the test and while you await your results.

Advice to Companies

We are in an uncertain and unprecedented time as the virus continues to linger and with the vaccine(s) being in the early stages. Companies and business owners should start thinking about certain infrastructures which can be used to allow employees to work from home (should this become necessary) – the initial cost may be high but may prove to save money in the long term. Employees should be able to provide accurate and detailed narrations of the work they have done at home. For businesses to stay afloat and competitive, employees and employers must still bring the same work ethic and account for their time just as they would if they were in the office where usual disciplinary action must be taken against individuals who do not produce the necessary work or if they cannot accurately account therefor.

Advice to All

If you display symptoms and suspect you may be infected, act reasonably: stay home and self-isolate – it is unlawful under these circumstances to report to work and continue your normal day to day activities at the office as this increases the risk of spreading the infection.


Should you require assistance or information pertaining to the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Faure Swanepoel
Candidate Attorney

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