Employers may say ‘no’

Employers may say ‘no’ to various requests from employees. Although the employer must act fairly and uniformly, the employer has the right to refuse requests based on operational requirements. The employer must also think carefully about making allowances and concessions to prevent setting a precedent in the future. Three common requests from employees that the employer does not have to grant include:

Option to say ‘no’ – Leave and time off

In terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the employee is entitled to one day’s paid leave for every 17 days worked. Although the employee is entitled to take leave, the employee must still apply for leave and the employer may reject it based on operational requirements, such as for example that it is the busiest time of production.

When the employee request time off to deal with personal matters, such as visiting the clinic for a routine examination or to obtain medication, the employer can refuse. These visits can be scheduled in the employee’s private time, alternatively the employee must take annual leave. Note that paid sick leave only applies when an employee is unable to work due to a medical condition.

Option to say ‘no’ – Loans

Loans should preferably not be granted to employees. The employer is not a financial institution and when loans are granted to employees on a regular basis, this can create an expectation among employees, as well as set a precedent for future loans.

Option to say ‘no’ – Ex-gratia payments

Ex-gratia payments refer to when the employer grants a payment to the employee on an ad hoc basis, such as for example with termination of employment, a marriage confirmation, funeral, etc. This payment is solely at the discretion of the employer and the employer must clearly communicate that there is no expectation created of similar future payments.
It is important that the employer acts consistently with respect to discipline, procedures, working conditions, employment conditions and compensation to avoid unfair discrimination.



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