Currently, employees are increasingly finding themselves in the position where they are placed on short time due to the poor financial position employers find themselves in.
Short-time can be described as the temporary reduction of employees’ working hours or days, thereby reducing the affected employee’s remuneration.
The general requirements are that the employee and the employer must consult on this matter and that consensus is reached on the period during which short-term will apply, as well as on how the employee’s remuneration will be adjusted.
Employers therefore use short-time as an alternative to retrenchments in order to stabilise the employer’s financial position.
However, the question arises as to what an employee’s right to sick leave is during the short-time period and how it is applied
As short-time is regarded as a temporary arrangement, employees’ rights in terms of sick leave remain unaffected. Employees are still entitled to the number of paid sick leave days during the 36-month sick leave cycle, as determined by section 22 (2) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, No. 75 of 1997.
In short, the section states that, within a 36-month cycle, an employee is entitled to paid sick leave for the number of days the employee would normally work within a six-week period. Therefore, if an employee works five days a week, the employee will be entitled to 30 days paid sick leave over a period of 36 months.
It is important to remember that an employee is only entitled to one day’s paid sick leave for every 26 days worked during the first six months after the employee started working for an employer.
The employee will only be able to take paid sick leave for those days or hours the employee has agreed to work during the short-time period.
The employee cannot take sick leave for the days or hours the employee would have worked normally before the implementation of short-time.
Furthermore, it is important that employees still notify their employers of the days on which they took sick leave and provide the necessary medical certificate, as provided for in section 23 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, No. 75 of 1997.