Too Scared to Take Sick Leave? These Are Your Rights as a South African

Take notes.

In a recent report published by Health 24, participants in a video confirmed that workers are either too afraid or nervous to take their sick leave. As the number of sick workers increases over the winter period, its almost unbelievable (and scary) that workers are still anxious to take their sick leave. The most popular reasons why people do not use their sick leave is the concern of having your work pile up or giving the impression that they simply are not committed to their work.


The reasons cited in the interviews support the findings reported in a study a few years ago. In 2014, it was reported that around 80% of South Africans would go to work despite being sick with a cold and/or the flu. Not only does this heighten your chances of spreading your germs to other team members – which will only lower productivity for all and make your road to recovery a long and painful one. According to health experts, you are the most contagious in first 48 hours of getting flu – this is before you even experience the major symptoms. So if you start to feel under the weather its best to get ahead of the cold.

READ MORE: It’s Time to End Leave-Shaming Once and for All

These Are Your Labour Rights as a South African

According to the South African Labour Guide, sick leave refers to the number of days an employee would work during a six week period over a three-year cycle. So let’s say you work five days a week, you are then entitled to 30 days sick leave with your full salary for every three-year cycle.

Hold up, could this mean I only get 10 days per year? According to the guide, “The employer may not restrict an employee to taking only 10 days sick leave per year.” It’s also important to remember that if you are off sick for 3 days or more, you are required to produce a medical certificate from anyone who is authorised to.

Interestingly, in a survey conducted by colds and flu medicine supplier, Pharma Dynamics, 64% of the 1800 South Africans who took the study admitted that they are not concerned with changing their health choices over the winter period. The study found that “64% couldn’t be bothered to eat more healthily by increasing their intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, 80% haven’t gone for the flu-jab and 6 out of 10 don’t implement proper hygiene practices, such as regular hand-washing.” Although these may feel like small changes, they can lower your risk of getting sick.

READ MORE: #AskADoc: I’ve Got a Cold, When Should I Go to the Doc?

So, the next time you feel under the weather, use the resources around you to make the best choice your health and the health of those around you.

Remember if you need to take a day off for mental health purposes, speak to your employer to see what their policies are regarding your sick day allocation.

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