We categorise leave into different types and each has minimal entitlement. There is annual Leave, Sick Leave, Maternity Leave and Paternity leave, among others.
For the sake of this article, we shall look at Annual Leave. The employment act states that an employee is entitled to a minimum of 21 days of leave within each period of 12 months. This amounts to 1.75 days earned as leave per month. The act further states that annual leave should comprise a minimum of two continuous weeks.
Let’s interpret the information. Some organisations have over 21 days as annual leave entitlement this is ok as long as it covers minimum requirement. One can take leave upon approval for various reasons such as to attending personal matter or sort some emergencies for a few days.
Annual leave should be a period of rest and rejuvenation, hence the employment act requirement for it to be a minimum of two continuous weeks. This protects employees from exploitative employers who are unwilling to grant longer leave. As mentioned earlier, leave needs to be approved. Being a legal entitlement does not warrant an employee to file for leave and disappear from the workplace on appointed leave day. Organisations have policies guiding on how much leave days one can carry forward to the next leave year. It is prudent to utilise one leave and avoid going against company polices without good reason.
Leave planning is critical, especially for annual leave. Creating an annual plan on when you intend to take leave is crucial to successful leave planning. Once you have created a plan, discuss the plan with your immediate boss who shall advise on ongoing or scheduled work and projects. This discussion creates an agreement on when to take annual leave and blocks off your leave days. It is also an excellent planning tool since it enables proper project and work handover, which guarantees continuity in your absence.
In unfortunate scenarios where organisations have a dysfunctional leave policy, an employee should know their legal entitlements on leave. In such cases, The Employment Act is a guide to entitlement on different categories of leave. The above process of leave planning should be practised proactively. There should be documented evidence of the leave planned and approvals granted, including discussion held concerning leave.
In the event where an employee does not take leave because of the organisation not allowing or cancelling planned leave, such leave cannot be forfeited. Leave forfeiture can only take place when an employee cannot honour their leave plans, and the leave has accumulated for over eighteen months. This is a grey area where both employees and employers should tread carefully while dealing with.
Of importance to note is that leave is a legal entitlement, with minimum day of each category outlined in The Employment Act. Annual Leave once earned is a credited to the employees’ leave balance. This means that in case of exit, an employee is entitled to unspent leave days being paid as part of their terminal dues. Where leave is cancelled by the employer, arrange for the employee to utilise leave within a reasonable period. Someone cannot penalise an employee where their balances are higher than what an organisation allows to be carried over to the next year. One should document any cancelled leave in case a dispute arises and you need to provide proof.