There are many types of leave; some are legally mandated to be available to employees by the Labour Act Chapter 28:01 of Zimbabwe, and others are voluntarily offered by employers. It is important to understand when each of the different types of leave applies so you can get the best out of your rights.
This article serves to educate employees and employers of the various types of leave available to them and also give ideas on optional leave types which can make them become employers of choice. This article is therefore divided into two sections. One which looks at the statutory leave types available to an employee and one which looks at market trends and additional leave types employers afford their employees.
Statutory Leave Types
- Vacation Leave
All employees are entitled to vacation leave in line with the Labour Act. Leave may normally be taken after employees have completed a minimum of 12 months' service. Only in special circumstances and at the discretion of the Head of Department in consultation with the Human Resources Manager may leave be taken earlier than this.
Maximum accrual of leave is 90 days after which no further leave will accrue. If an employee falls sick during vacation leave, the leave days shall be converted to sick leave if the employee has a medical certificate and provided there shall be sick leave to draw on. The employee will, in addition, be entitled to the statutory holidays gazetted and observed by the host country.
Any Public Holiday falling within a period of annual/vacation leave may not count as part of that period of annual/vacation leave. All employees are encouraged to take annual leave as regularly as this contributes to the well-being and health of employees.
Any organisation needs to place focus on the sound welfare of its employees and accept that they may become incapacitated due to illness/injury, which might require them to take time off in order to recuperate. The organisation can facilitate this by allowing employees to take approved sick leave.
The organisation shall approve sick leave in line with Labour regulations as follows:
The first ninety (90) calendar days with full pay and a further ninety (90) calendar days at half the employees’ remuneration rate.
If during one-year of service, the period or aggregate periods of sick leave exceed one hundred and eighty days’ sick leave on full and half-pay, the organisation may terminate the employment of the employee concerned on medical grounds.
Unused sick leave cannot be carried over the next year and is not payable on the termination of employment. Sick leave payments are to be made as standard pay. If an employee exhausts all sick leaves, annual leave may be taken if available. Otherwise, the employee may be placed on unpaid leave or have employment terminated.
If during any one-year period of service, an employee has used up the maximum ninety (90) days’ sick leave on full pay the CEO shall, at the request of the employee, supported by a certificate signed by a registered medical practitioner, grant a further period of up to ninety (90) days’ on half-pay where, in the opinion of the registered medical practitioner signing the certificate, it is probable that the employee will be able to resume duty after such further period of sick leave.
Once the paid sick leave is exhausted, an employee may on request, be allowed to utilize accrued annual/vacation leave instead of immediately going on sick leave on half pay or without pay.
If during any one year period of service, the aggregate period of sick leave exceeds one hundred and eighty (180) days’ sick leave on full pay and half-pay, the CEO or Board where applicable may terminate the employment of the employee concerned.
- Maternity Leave
Female employees are entitled to a specific time off duty for the purposes of preparing for the unborn child and the nursing of the same after birth. Every female employee shall be entitled to maternity leave in line with the Labour Act for a period not exceeding 98 calendar days. The employee shall proceed on their leave not more than forty-five days before the date of delivery and not less than fourteen days before the expected date of delivery. Female employees shall receive 100% of her monthly salary and benefits for the period of the maternity leave.
The frequency of maternity leave shall not be more than once every two years or in contravention of the provisions of the Labour Act.
In an instance whereby a female employee gets into employment unaware that they are pregnant or if they get pregnant before the first two years of employment elapses and if the frequency of maternity leave is more than once in two years, then the company reserves the right of discretion to either give the employee paid leave or not.
The maternity leave period shall only be extended without pay if:
- As a result of complications accompanying the birth of the child and the employee needs to convalesce for a specified period in excess of 45 days. This should be certified by a registered practitioner.
- The 98 days’ elapse before the child is born
A female employee who is the mother of a suckling child shall, during each working day, be granted at her request at least one hour or two half-hour periods, as she may choose during normal working hours, for the purpose of nursing her child, and such employee may combine the portion or portions of time to which she is so entitled with any other normal breaks so as to constitute longer periods that she may find necessary or convenient for the purpose of nursing her child. However, this arrangement shall be the subject of an agreement between the female employee and the relevant supervisor and will be made in accordance with all the exigencies of her employment she will be entitled to these benefits under for the period during which she actually nurses her child or six months, whichever is the lesser.
Any maternity leave requested in excess of the limits prescribed in terms of this policy and the Labour Act may be granted as unpaid maternity leave.
Employees shall from time to time face time pressures emanating from their private and family life, which require them to take urgent leave from their duties in order to attend to these issues. Personal issues included in this instruction are the death or any other issue to be classified under this section at the discretion of Management.
Special leave of twelve days shall be granted to staff:
- who is required to be absent from duty on the instructions of a medical practitioner because of contact with an infectious disease;
- who is subpoenaed to attend any court in Zimbabwe as a witness;
- who is required to attend as a delegate or office-bearer at any meeting of a registered trade union representing employees within the undertaking or industry in which the employee is employed;
- who is detained for questioning by the police;
- Weekly Rest and Remuneration for Work during Public Holidays
Every employee shall be entitled to not less than twenty-four continuous hours of rest each week, either on the same day of every week or on a day agreed by the employer and employee.
An employee shall be granted a leave of absence during every public holiday and shall be paid his current remuneration for that day if it occurs on a day on which he would otherwise have been required to work.
Where an employee consents to work on a public holiday he shall be paid not less than twice his current remuneration for that day, whether or not that day is one on which he would otherwise have been required to work.
Non-Statutory (Optional) Leave Types (Based on Market Trends)
An employer should value the effort by employees to improve on their academic/professional qualifications in order to keep abreast of the social, political, economic and technological changes that affect the business world. Leave shall be granted to staff writing examinations after approval by the applicants’ immediate Manager, HR Manager and CEO.
Study leave will be granted to employees writing examinations in fields related to their profession or any other relevant course of study for the advancement of the organisation. Such leave should typically not exceed twelve (12) days per year. Study Leave in excess of the twelve (12) working days will be taken as annual leave.
Male employees who can be entitled to at least five (5) working days paid leave on the birth of a child. Paternity leave with pay is usually available to members of staff employed on fixed-term contracts.
Paternity leave must be taken within seven days of the birth of the child, except in exceptional circumstances.
Where a member of staff has more than one spouse, paternity leave shall be granted in respect of one spouse only.
Paid paternity leave may only be taken once every twenty-four months.
Some companies grant compassionate leave in line with the following:
Ten (10) working days leave may usually be granted to an employee on the death of his/her spouse, child or parent or for any other justifiable compassionate ground. The aggregate of such compassionate leave may not exceed 10 working days within 12 months.
Five (5) working days leave may be granted to an employee on the death of his/her brother or sister. The aggregate of such compassionate leave may not exceed 5 working days within 12 months and shall not be regarded as or deducted from annual /vacation leave.
Compassionate leave in excess of the 10 working days and may be deducted from annual/vacation leave.
Members of Staff who travel on official company business for a week or more will be entitled to one (1) day leave on return to the duty station. The leave will not be commutable and should be taken within two weeks of return from business. Recuperative leave lapses if not taken within the stipulated period and cannot be accumulated.
Unpaid leave may be granted only under exceptional circumstances, to an employee who is not eligible for any type of leave.
A member of staff who has given the notice to terminate his or her services with the company may be allowed to take annual leave days accrued at the discretion of the CEO or the Executive Committee where applicable.
- Cash in Lieu of leave
If the employee has any leave days accrued that they do not want to use these can be paid out as Cash in Lieu of Leave.
This list is not meant to be fully comprehensive of every conceivable type of leave, but instead, it’s meant to cover the primary leave types offered. How does the list compare to what your organization offers? Which other leave options do you think you should be entitled to?
Fadzai Danha is a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm. Phone +263 (242) 481946-48/481950 or email: [email protected] or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com
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