Welcome to the UCT Law@Work Club

Learning Centre: Sick Leave


Are you following all the rules regarding sick leave? Do you know the amount of days you are allocated should you fall ill? Below is an example of the sick leave section within the Learning Centre. It details everything from the amount of days you are entitled to and includes video tutorials explaining all the rules.





When an employee calls in and advises the employer that he is sick; he is in fact stating that he is incapacitated from fulfilling the functions of his position due to his ill health problem. This is an important fact as it introduces the employer to the right to manage the incapacity that arises. Sick leave need not be exhausted before an incapacity process commences, and the next few tutorials will demonstrate this point.


The abuse of sick leave

In the matter of Numsa and Delta Motor Corp (2003) CCMA, the implementation of an incapacity process resulted in the fair termination of employment of employees who were clearly taking excessive sick leave despite suffering from no significant impairment.


Dealing with ill health incapacity

First the impairment must be determined (medical question), then the functional ability becomes relevant (as advised by an occupational doctor/therapist) and finally the possible accommodation/alternative available to the employee (HR/legal question).

These cases provide a good understanding of the expectations of our law in dealing with ill health incapacity.







Sick Leave part 1

Sick leave part 2

Sick leave part 3

Case in point: Traditional healers


  • What are the legalities surrounding "accumulated" sick leave?

  • How can one prevent the abuse of sick leave?

  • How would you prove the abuse of sick leave?

  • Are certificates by traditional healers valid?

  • What are the processes to determine dismissal for ill-health incapacity?

  • Would the same procedures for dismissal for incapacity comply for depression?

  • How valid is a backdated sick leave certificate?

  • If one is off sick on a Friday and a Monday, would this count as four days off instead of two?

    Legislation and Case Law

    Kievets Kroon Country Estate (Pty) Ltd v CCMA & Others (2011) 32 ILJ923 (LC)

    In 2007, the employee began having visions and sought the assistance from a traditional healer. The healer instructed the employee to undergo training to become a traditional healer – to appease her ancestors.

    Between 6 May and 6 June, she sought permission to take unpaid leave to attend a ritual- she presented a certificate from her traditional healer. The employer did not accept the certificate as valid. On her return, she was dismissed after an inquiry and charged with absence from work, etc. The matter went to the CCMA and then the Labour Court.

    They found that most of the charges were unfair, and the key question was whether the employee was justifiably absent from work- in addressing this, the employee’s explanation was considered and they found the employee had a valid and persuasive reason for absence.


    What this case showcased

    This case highlighted the clash of culture: an employer concerned with maximizing profits and the employee believing she would become ill if she did not heed the advice of the traditional healer.