On 15 March 2020 the Covid-19 virus was declared a state of disaster in terms of section 23(1)(b) and 27(1) of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002.
There is often much confusion over how public holidays should be dealt with in practice and the impact that public holidays have on employees’ annual leave.
In terms of Section 18 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, an employer may not require an employee to work on a public holiday, except in accordance with an agreement. An employee who does not work on a public holiday that falls on a day which would normally be a working day for the employee must be paid his / her normal wage for the day.
An employee who is required, by agreement, to work on a public holiday that falls on a day on which the employee would not normally work, must be paid his / her ordinary daily wage, plus the amount earned by the employee for the work performed on that day.
Payment for public holidays should be made together with the employee’s salary on the employee’s usual pay day.
If an employee’s shift falls partially on a public holiday and the greater part of the shift is worked on the public holiday, the whole shift is deemed to have been working on a public holiday, but if the greater part of the shift falls on the other day, the whole shift is deemed to be have been worked on the other day.
Further to the above, in terms of the Public Holidays Act, a public holiday is exchangeable for any other day which is fixed by agreement or agreed to between the employer and the employee.
Should a public holiday be exchanged for another day, the employee would have to be given a day off on another day, which would normally be a working day, on full pay.
Public holidays may not be deducted from employees’ annual leave provision, and employers should note that according to Section 20(8) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, an employer must grant an employee an additional day of paid leave if a public holiday falls on a day during an employee’s annual leave on which the employee would have ordinarily worked.
It is important to note that employees who have agreed to work on a public holiday may be subject to disciplinary action should they be absent on the day and fail to provide sufficient proof of their reasons for being absent from work without leave.
Do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions or require more clarity regarding the above.