Can I take another sick leave?

Friday February 26 2021

Caroline Mboijana

By Caroline Mboijana

Dear Caroline,
I took a month’s sick leave when I was going for surgery. However, I did not recover as expected so I ended up taking more days. My company has been supportive. However, only two months after my return, my condition has  worsened again, I have tried to ignore it in vain, yet I am conflicted about asking for another sick leave. Sophia.

Dear Sophia,
It is unfortunate you are still unwell after taking time off work to recover. It is important you recover as much as you possibly can so you can be productive in the workplace. 
As a starting point I recommend you look at three critical documents, the Employment Act, your organisations HR manual and your employment contract. The Employment Act allows for an employee to have two months of sick leave.  Each month is approximately 22 working days, where working day is generally defined as Monday to Friday depending on the nature of your work. 

Thereafter the management of sick leave is managed through the organisations sick leave policy. To decide whether you have used all the leave as provided for by the Employment Act, you will need to analyse how many days you have been off sick. As you review your sick days taken remember any public holidays that fell on a workday, should not be counted as sick leave. Once you have established the number of days taken off, you’ll have clarity on whether you have any sick leave days available from the minimum statutory two months.  

In addition to the days off analysis, please review your contract and HR Manual. Many organisations have a policy that gives employees more than the minimum requirement as defined by the law. If your contract and policy give you more time off, then you are in a good position to negotiate with your employer.  In asking for more time, it is important to provide additional medical documentation from your doctor which states additional time off is required for your full recovery. 

If your contract and HR manual only give you two months and you find either you have used up all the leave or the days available are less than is required, you may want to negotiate time off by agreeing to either have sick leave on half pay or have unpaid sick leave. While these two options will impact you financially, what is important is you will still have a contract of employment and a job to go back to once you are well and are ready to go back to work. 
Good luck.

Caroline Mboijana,
Managing Director,
The Leadership Team (U)