Know Your Rights: Don’t Be Sick About Sick Leave!

Sick Leave Rights

Feeling under the weather? Don’t worry about work – take that sick day! But before you crawl back under the covers, are you clear on your rights and limitations when it comes to sick leave in South Africa?

Many employees and employers get confused about sick leave, leading to unnecessary stress. Here’s a quick and easy guide to help you navigate the world of sick days:

The Sick Leave Game

Think of sick leave like earning points for good health! South Africa’s labour law, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (“the BCEA”), grants you points based on your work history with the same employer.

  • First 6 Months: You earn 1 point (day of paid sick leave) for every 26 days worked. Use these points wisely!
  • After 6 Months: You get a bigger point pool! You’re entitled to points equal to the number of days you typically work in a 6-week period over 3 years (around 30 days).


  • Use It Wisely: This is for genuine illness or injury, not an extra day off.
  • Be Responsible: Abusing sick leave can lead to trouble with your boss.

Doctor’s Note Duty

Feeling rough for more than 2 days in a row, or experiencing multiple short illnesses within 8 weeks? Your employer might ask for a doctor’s note as proof. Even a note from a registered traditional healer is valid!

Out of Points?

If you’ve used up all your sick leave points, you can take unpaid leave or use your annual leave (vacation days) if your employer agrees.

Still Confused?

Don’t be left in the dark! If you’re an employee unsure about your rights or an employer wanting to be sure you’re following the law, contact us for more information. A healthy and informed workforce is a happy and productive one!

Know your rights, be responsible, and get well soon! Happy and healthy working!

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