The Basic Conditions of Employment Act is the yardstick against which this is measured. This document stipulates the conditions under which employees, both South African and foreign, must be employed.

Your work visa would not have been approved if your South African employer does not meet the requirements of the Act. However, this does not mean your working conditions will never change.

To protect yourself for the duration of your work visa, familiarise yourself with what’s in the Act. We’ll highlight some of the key areas that’ll affect your work life the most.

Working hours

Your employer is not allowed to require or permit you to work more than:

  • 45 hours a week.
  • Nine hours in a day if you work on 5 days or less a week.
  • Eight hours in a day if you work more than 5 days a week.
  • You must have a meal interval of 60 minutes after five hours of work. This may be reduced to 30 minutes by written agreement.
  • Your lunch break may also be done away with by written agreement if you work less than 6 hours a day.

Annual leave

You are entitled to 21 consecutive days’ annual leave or, by agreement, one day for 17 days worked or one hour for every 17 hours worked. This leave must be granted no later than 6 months after the end of your annual leave cycle.

Sick leave

You are entitled to 6 weeks paid sick leave in a period of 36 months. During the first 6 months of your employment, you are entitled to one day’s paid sick leave for every 26 days worked.

Your employer is within their rights to request a medical certificate before paying you if you are absent for more than two consecutive days. This also applies when you take sick days often.

Maternity leave

Should you fall pregnant, you are entitled to four months’ maternity leave.

Family responsibility leave

If you are a full-time employee, you are entitled to three days’ paid family responsibility leave per year, on request, in the following instances:

  • When your child is born or sick.
  • In the event of your spouse or life partner’s death.
  • In the event of the death of a parent, adoptive parent, grandparent, child, adopted child, grandchild or sibling.

Your employer is acting within their rights if they ask for proof of the examples mentioned above.

The Labour Department has made the latest updated Act available online.