By Karla Endres
Study leave is essential for all employees who try to balance studies with work. Unfortunately, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act does not govern study leave. It is therefore important for a company’s policy to provide for study leave. If this is not the case, it is important for study leave to be governed by your contract of employment.
If the company’s policy does not provide for study leave, this should be negotiated with the employer, and the conditions may be incorporated in the contract of employment.
Make sure that the correct procedure is followed when you apply for study leave. In many instances the correct procedure is not followed or the study leave is application is rejected and these case then end up with the CCMA.
In Maidi v MEC for Department of Education the Labour Court had to consider an application for review. The employee was dismissed following an absence from work of more than 14 days because he had been on “study leave”. The Labour Court found that the CCMA was correct in its finding that the employee had acted contrary to the Lebowa Education Act. In terms of this Act, an employee may be dismissed on the grounds of misconduct if he or she was absent from work without permission for more than 14 days. Pillay J further found that the employee’s study leave had not been approved and that he had been absent from work without permission.
In CEPPWAWU v Shatterprufe the dispute was referred to the Tribunal for the correct interpretation of the agreement governing the employees’ study leave and the Tribunal had to determine whether they were indeed entitled to it.
Therefore, make sure that you understand the policy and process regarding study leave and that there are no study leave clauses in the contract of employment that contradict one another.