Will my employer pay me for leave not taken?

Friday October 18 2019

Caroline Mboijana

Caroline Mboijana 

By Caroline Mboijana

I haven’t taken leave in five years. I have gotten to a point where I want to move on to a new company. Does the law obligate employers to compensate employees for leave days not taken at the time they are quitting their job? What is the leave compensation they’re entitled to? Charity

Dear Charity,
All employees are entitled to leave, and, in many cases, this is clearly stipulated in your contract. While the law is very clear about how leave is earned, 1.75 days per month worked under contract, how it’s taken is an agreement between the employee and the employer.

At the point of resignation any leave that is earned and not taken should be paid as part of your final pay. In your case if you have not taken leave for 5 years, then technically you are entitled to 1.75 days earned for the 60 months. Your employer may push back on paying the full 60 months’ worth of annual leave.

In order to ensure you get your full dues, you’ll need to answer the following questions. Why were you not able to take leave for 5 years? Did your employer ask you to postpone your leave, if so, do you have the request documented and is it applicable for every year of employment? If you have this documented, then you are in a strong position to influence your employer to pay what is due to you.

If it’s not documented, then you need to be prepared to negotiate for your payment. You’ll probably find there is a limitation to how far back an employer is willing to back pay. All employers must either give all their employees time off for rest or if this is not done, they must pay for the leave day.

Your contract should stipulate the time frame in which leave is both earned and taken. If you do not have a contract, then the guidelines provided for in the law will come into play and will dictate how leave earned and not taken is managed.


Caroline Mboijana
Managing Director
The Leadership Team (U)