Family Responsibility Leave South Africa – How Does It Work? (2023)

There are times when a worker can wake up to a sudden medical emergency and they just have to skip work. Rather than rushing to work with fear and frustration for fear of being fired by their boss, there are solutions already put in place to ensure you as a worker in South Africa will take care of your situations with pleasantness. For instance, you can claim a family responsibility leave South Africa.

Family Responsibility Leave South Africa

The law supports that a large chunk of South African employees working in any organisation in the country are entitled to three days off to attend to urgent matters, medical emergency, injury, or illness. Of course, this is not meant to breed laziness or something similar, but it’s just that, some circumstances in life are unavoidable. Hence, family responsibility leaves South Africa makes things much pleasant for workers.

It should however be noted that not every worker in a firm in the country is entitled to such leave as the family responsibility leave. Actually, there are some rules and regulations that will determine those that will be given the leave and under specific situations. Therefore, as a worker, it is beneficial to have a vivid understanding of what the whole provision involves. If you are entitled to this, then you can claim it whenever the need arises, as it is an entitlement.

What Is Considered Family Responsibility Leave In South Africa

Family responsibility leave has to do with off days that workers in the country are entitled to, as they have a need to attend to important and urgent family issues. As stated earlier, this is an entitlement, and it’s not much of a big deal as far as you are eligible for it.

As stipulated, the family responsibility leave is based on a complete yearly cycle for which a worker is in employment. This differs from the yearly option in that all the days off of the employee lapse whenever the cycle ends. 

While the law has empowered all employees in South Africa to claim the family responsibility leave whenever they can, there are certain persons that are exempted, including those serving in the South African Secret Service, National Defence Force, National Intelligence Agency. Additionally, those indulging in unpaid charity works as volunteers are also exempted

Compassionate Leave South Africa

For a long time in South Africa, the expression “compassionate leave” is used for a short-term leave claimed by workers when someone close to them is ill or maybe passed away. Of course, in some places, this type leave is known as Bereavement Leave. Nevertheless, since 1997, it became family responsibility leave, although there are times when people still use “compassionate leave” in place of “family responsibility leave” in the country.

As stated earlier, you must be eligible before you can be permitted to embark on this leave. You can’t just go to the presence of your boss and give him just any reason, expecting that he will give you an okay just like that. On the other hand, an employee can only get approval following a medical emergency, injury, illness, or an urgent matter that concerns their close relatives (like their parent, spouse, siblings, child, or any dependent relatives).

However,  the South African Labor Act already stipulates that if you are to be eligible for this leave, then you should have a working record of more than four months with your present employer. It was made known that you have to be on employment for at least 4 days a week to be eligible

It is necessary to add that not all cases will be approved by your employer. For instance, it doesn’t cover circumstances like the death of a distant relative like a cousin, a mother or father-in-law, etc.

How Many Days Compassionate Leave Are You Entitled To In South Africa

The maximum allowable number of days is three days.

It should be added that while it is not possible to accrue all one’s days, the worker can choose to use them separately. But then, it is important to cooperate with one’s employers, even in such matters as this. You should inform your employers in advance. But if you couldn’t do this due to situations beyond your control, then it is necessary to notify your boss immediately once you start. 

Of course, you won’t lose your right to taking some days off if you didn’t notify your boss before embarking on it. But then, wisdom demands that you follow the guidelines that your organization has as touching this issue. The law has backed South African employees that their employers have no right to penalise, fire, or even threaten them in any way over this issue. In fact, it is common sense that as humans, there is stuff we can’t control.

There is something about this leave that has made it different from some others. For instance, it has been said that when you are trying to claim this leave, in the case of an illness, medical emergency, or injury, your boss is even prohibited from demanding any medical notes from you. You are not compelled to share the person’s medical condition with your employer. Yes, if they desire, they can ask for the person’s name as well as their relationship with you. 



Claiming a family responsibility leave as a worker in South Africa gives you the relief you need to take care of your medical and other related emergencies without the fear of losing your job or being suspended by your boss.

Once workers are aware of their rights, as empowered by the law, it gets easier for them in the workplace, and they are meant to be encouraged for more productivity, which will indeed be beneficial to everyone

DISCLAIMER: Everyone should note that this article is meant only for general informational purposes alone. Indeed, it is not meant to be an alternative for professional assistance and expert help, neither does it address individual circumstances and situations. Hence, you are advised not to rely on this to make important decisions of any kind. 

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