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1 Nov, 2023

As promised in my last blog, “The need for policy and procedures in SME’s”, I will give you a quick summary of what to make provision for when drafting a leave or disciplinary procedure.

I have received some questions personally regarding the article. So I will quickly answer them.

  1. What is the difference between a policy and a procedure and,
  2. Does it matter if it’s a policy or a procedure?

Well, in short, and without boring you with too much content, Policy is an overview of the specifics, what to do or not to do, whereas the procedures give you a detailed description of how it’s done.  However, as SMEs operate on a less formal set-up, I would advise you not to get caught up with whether to use the word policy or procedure.  The important thing to remember is that there was a document containing rules or guidelines, and the employee must be aware of this.

Just as an overview, the Labour Act 11 of 2007 is the guideline, and I recommend that all SMEs have a copy of this available at their workplace and get an overview training on the said Act.  The Act has introduced changes regarding the number of days leaves allocated to respective 5-day-week and 6-day-week employees.  Accordingly, a 5-day week employee is entitled to 20 working days per annum, whereas a 6-day week employee is entitled to 24 days per annum, a 4-day week employee to 16- and 3-day week employees to 12 days per annum.

To ensure a bit of formality and for record purposes, I would advise that your procedure/policy is typed out and shared with all employees the day they start employment. Also, keep a copy available and within reach, such as on the Company’s Intranet. Ensure you give your document the name eg: “The Bakery leave policy”. See the sample as a reference below.

Make provision for 3 or 4 subsections: annual leave, sick leave, compassionate leave and maternity leave.

In each Section, write a short summary on how to apply for the leave, where to apply for the leave and who may approve the leave to be considered approved. 

I have seen many companies copy and paste sample leave procedures without considering whether the process detailed in that procedure fits your company.  Please be mindful of this as a word of caution.

As a sample, drafted a summarized version of a leave policy.  You will note the language is simplified.

SAMPLE

THE BAKERY ANNUAL LEAVE POLICY

  1. Annual Leave Cycle

Annual leave cycle will mean the period of 12 months of employment immediately following an employee’s commencement of employment or the completion of that employee’s prior leave cycle.

  1. Annual Leave application process

Every employee will have ……. Consecutive working days of annual leave.  During this period, the employee will be paid for the period whilst such employee is on leave, but only if he/she has sufficient approved leave.   

You must ensure that you take all your leave during the 12-month period. If you fail to take leave within 12 months, your leave (leave that is left from the previous year) will lapse six months after your last annual leave cycle ends.

Once you take leave, your leave balance will reduce with the days taken and approved.

Public holidays that fall on or during the employee’s annual leave will not be deducted as leave.

Leave must be approved before the employee proceeds on such leave of absence.

You must not work for another employer during your leave period.

Mr. Xxx must approve your leave, and you must complete the leave form at reception and ensure it is signed off.

Any leave requested via social media or messenger must be formally applied once you return. However, please make sure that you have approval.

In the next sections, you summarise sick leave, compassionate leave, and maternity leave.  I always recommend upholding the use of language in your procedures.  Make it easy, readable, and understandable.

Take caution when drafting your sick leave summary.  The Namibian Labour Act says during the first 12 months of employment, employees who work five days per week accrue one day of sick leave for every five weeks of employment.   Five days per week employees are therefore entitled to 30 working days of sick leave, and six days per week are entitled to 36 working days of sick leave over a 36-month period. So, in 3 years (36 months), a 5-day worker is entitled to 30 days.

Here is a sample of how you can draft your sick leave summary:

  1. Sick Leave meaning

              Sick leave is an incapacity and will mean the inability to work because of sickness or injury.

  1. Sick Leave Entitlements:

2.1             You are entitled to 30 paid working days in a 36-month sick leave cycle.

2.2             For the first 12 months of employment, you are entitled to one day’s paid sick leave for every 26 days worked.

2.3      To be eligible to receive paid sick leave, an employee must produce a Medical Certificate signed by a registered medical practitioner (Doctor, Psychiatrist, Dentist, Registered Nurse) where the absence exceeds two working days.

2.4    You must inform your supervisor if you are absent from work due to illness. You must do this before ……(add)

A Medical Certificate is only prima facie proof that an employee has been on bona fide sick leave. The Company retains the right to query any Medical Certificate. In cases where it is proven that a Medical Certificate was obtained for ulterior motives, the Company may legitimately refuse to pay the employee sick leave. In addition, corrective action may be taken in accordance with the company’s established procedures. 

2.5    Where an employee is absent on sick leave for excessive periods, the Company reserves the right to conduct an enquiry into the employee’s capacity (or incapacity) to perform his job and to take whatever lawful steps it deems appropriate, including but not limited to the termination of the employee’s contract of employment with the Company.

2.6  Please complete the absence form and the medical certificate upon your return from sick leave.

Once again, do not copy and paste. Sit down and identify exactly what you need as an SME and draft your documents accordingly.  I hope the above has given you an idea of where to start and how to start by drafting your own leave policy in the future.

Let all new start new.

Alethea Borman

Admitted legal practitioner

1 Comment

  1. Zubeth Morkel

    Great

    Reply

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