Search

Academic Leave Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Annual (vacation) leave - Academic staff
  Question Answer
1
How much annual leave am I entitled to? Annual leave for academic staff is 22 days per year, which is normally taken in the month of January. In setting the guidelines of 22 days per annum, the University recognises that, in addition to the 22 days, academics ordinarily do not work during the period between Christmas and New Year (27 December - 31 December). Where the staff member is required to work in this period, the corresponding number of working days is granted as leave during the year, to be arranged in advance as no leave is carried forward to the following year.
2
How do I know how much leave I have available to use at any given time? It is assumed that as an academic you will take your 22 days leave in January. If not taken in January, those 22 days are available to use at another time of year, by arrangement with your Head of Department. The HR department does not keep a record of annual leave days taken by academic staff. Any records of this sort, if kept, will be in your department. Please note that leave not taken in the year accrued doesn't carry forward.
3
I can't take leave during January due to my workload at that time of year. Can I take my leave at another time of year? Yes, by agreement in advance with your Head of Department.
Sick leave
  Question Answer
1
How much sick leave am I entitled to? Permanent - 30 days full pay per year for first 3 years. 30 days half pay per year for the next 3 years. In total, 90 days full pay and 90 days half pay in a 6 year cycle.

T1 and T2 contracts - 1 day per month worked

Ad Hoc and paid on claim contracts - 1 day per 26 days worked
2
I am sick. What should I do now? Ensure that you follow this process:
  1. Inform your line manager. This must be done as soon as possible, preferably by the start of the working day, to get his or her approval to be absent from the workplace.
  2. Take good care of yourself and see a registered medical practitioner if necessary. If your illness is for longer than 2 working days, you must get a medical certificate from your medical practitioner, which states that you are not fit for work and gives the dates covered by that diagnosis.
  3. On your return to work, fill out leave form HR140 and attach the medical certificate.
  4. Your line manager must sign the form and send it to the HR department with the medical certificate attached.
3
If I am not well and go home part way through the working day, do I have to apply for a day's sick leave? Taking the above answer into account, you have two options:
  1. Either apply for a day's sick leave, especially if leaving early in the day.
  2. Or, at your line manager's discretion, if a short time (e.g. one or two hours) is involved, this may be made up at another time by agreement.
4
What is the difference between receiving 15 days paid
sick leave and 15 days unpaid sick leave?
Paid sick leave is absence (with permission and a medical certificate) for ill health or injury and is granted on full pay until this runs out, and then on half pay. Benefits and leave accrual continue during this time. When your half pay sick leave runs out, unpaid sick leave may be granted. During a period of unpaid sick leave, you are not paid a salary but you do continue to accrue annual leave and your other benefits also continue.
5
If I am sick for one day on a Monday or Friday, or the day after a public holiday do I have to produce a medical certificate? A medical certificate is always required for sick leave periods of more than two days. Weekends and public holidays are included if sick leave is applied for on either side as follows:

Weekends:
Saturday + Sunday + Sick on Monday = 1
Sick on Friday + Saturday + Sunday = 1
Sick on Friday + Saturday + Sunday + sick on Monday = 4

Public holidays:
Public holiday + Sick the day after = 1
Sick the day before + public holiday = 1
Sick the day before + public holiday + sick the day after = 3

If the public holiday is alongside a weekend and sick leave is taken before and after, then both the public holiday and the weekend are counted.

Please note that a pattern of sick leave preceding or following weekends or public holidays may indicate abuse of sick leave.
6
I need to see my doctor for a yearly check-up. Can I take the day off as sick leave? No, you would have to use annual leave. As you are able to perform your work at that time, and you are not incapacitated by ill health or injury, you are required to be at work or to take annual leave.
7
I have a physiotherapist/specialist appointment. Can I take the day off sick? This depends on whether you are able to perform in your position on that day. If you are in a condition which prevents you from working or the treatment you receive will leave you unable to work afterwards then the principle of incapacity may apply. Your line manager may ask you for a medical certificate to help him or her distinguish between sick leave (in which you are unable to work) and annual leave (in which you are well enough to work).
8
Can I bring a sick certificate from a Sangoma, traditional or alternative healer? If the individual is a registered medical provider with the HPCSA (Health Professions Council of South Africa) and is qualified to diagnose and treat the condition in question, then this would be acceptable.
9
I have been off ill for a while. My doctor has recommended returning to work on a part-time basis for 2 months. Can I use my sick leave for the remainder of the time? Yes, provided motivation from a medical practitioner is received as part of a defined rehabilitation plan.
10
Can my line manager insist that I bring a sick leave
certificate for every instance?
Yes, if you have been off for more than 2 days a medical certificate is required. In addition, a medical certificate may be required if you have been off sick for any length of time on 2 or more occasions during an 8 week period, or there is a pattern of abuse.
11
I need to have an operation, who do I contact for my sick leave balance? Speak to your HR Administrator.
12
I have run out of paid sick leave and cannot afford to have pay reduced, what do I do? If both your full and half-paid sick leave days are used up, you would be on approved unpaid sick leave and would need to apply for UIF. In exceptional circumstances please speak to your HR Practitioner for advice.
13
I am employed on a contract. Is my sick leave carried over from one contract to another? Unlike annual leave, sick leave always expires at the end of your contract. In exceptional circumstances, for example if you need to have a hospital procedure, we may take your previous contract's sick leave into account, subject to approval.
14
I had an accident at work and need time off to recover. What type of leave should I use? You should complete all relevant forms for Injury On Duty and Workmen's Compensation. If your claim is not approved, it will be converted to sick leave.
15
I have a cold and am feeling slightly unwell. Is it
important that I stay home to avoid making others sick?
While this is a valid concern, there are many other ways to avoid passing on or picking up a cold that do not impact on work. Sick leave is only granted when you are incapable of performing in your position due to illness or injury.
16
I think I might be getting a cold. I don't want my symptoms to develop any further. I need to stay home to prevent this from happening. Taking good care of yourself is important but unfortunately sick leave cannot be granted while you are physically and mentally capable of performing in your position. Actual incapacity is a legal requirement for sick leave to be granted.
17
I need to go to the clinic to collect my medicines. Can I use sick leave? As you are capable of working, you will not be able to use sick leave for this. You must use annual leave or make an arrangement with your line manager to work back the time.
18
A nurse at the clinic/chemist has given me a sick certificate for a slipped disc. Is this acceptable? It depends on whether the diagnosis is within the scope of practice of the individual who issued it. If the nurse is licensed to make the diagnosis and treat the condition, then he or she may issue the certificate.
19
Can I take sick leave for stress or depression? If you have a medical certificate from a suitably qualified medical practitioner and have been given leave by your line manager to be absent from work, then this is no different to any other type of sick leave.
Family responsibility leave
  Question Answer
1
How much family responsibility leave am I entitled to? Permanent and T2 staff are entitled to 5 days' family responsibility leave per cycle.

T1 contract staff are entitled to 3 days' family responsibility leave per cycle.

The annual cycle for family responsibility leave runs from the anniversary date of your current employment contract. It is renewed in each new cycle. Family responsibility leave from the previous cycle is replaced and cannot be carried over.

Ad hoc and paid-on-claim staff are not entitled to family responsibility leave.
2
My spouse/partner is at home with a serious medical condition. Can I take family responsibility leave? If your spouse/partner is unable to care for him or herself, then you may be able to apply for family responsibility leave subject to medical certificate requirements (see Question 3 below).
3
Do I have to produce a medical certificate for family responsibility leave? A medical certificate is required for days 3, 4 and 5 of your entitlement. You do not need to provide a medical certificate for days 1 and 2. Medical certificates must be from a registered medical practitioner, in the name of the person who is sick. It should be clear that it is necessary for you to care for this person.

In the case of death, a death certificate is required as proof when applying for any day of the entitlement.
4
I need to attend a school interview, or school sporting event involving my child. Can I use family responsibility leave? No, for this you would have to use annual leave.
5
The family pet has died after being with us for 10 years. Can I take family responsibility leave? No, this is not covered by the leave policy.
6
What is meant by 'immediate family'? Exactly which family members does this cover, and are step family members included? Immediate family members include your spouse, life partner, parent, adoptive parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, child, adoptive child, grandchild and sibling.

Other in-laws, nieces, nephews, uncles and aunts are not covered. Step children are not covered unless they have been formally adopted.
7
My child is sick but I am able to self-medicate her to recovery as it is a common cold which does not require her to go to the doctor. Can I take family responsibility leave? If you are using day 1 or 2 of your family responsibility leave entitlement, there is no need for a medical certificate. However an application for days 3, 4 and/or 5 of your entitlement will require a medical certificate. Annual leave would have to be used if a medical certificate cannot be produced.
8
My child has a chronic illness (asthma). Do I have to get a medical certificate each and every time I need to take time off to care for him? This would be subject to approval by the Executive Director: Human Resources and would have to be accompanied with a medical certificate explaining the requirements (i.e. how you are required to care for him).
9
My mother passed away while I was on annual leave. Can I convert to family responsibility leave? Only if motivated and supported by your HOD, and approved by the Executive Director: Human Resources. We will take into consideration your general absenteeism record, and the circumstances of the loss.
10
I have lost two immediate family members in one year (e.g. mother and father) would I be able to apply for more than 5 days family responsibility leave? Only if motivated and approved by the Executive Director: Human Resources. We will take into consideration your general absenteeism record, and the circumstances of the loss. If approved, family responsibility leave from the following cycle will be used.
11
I have used up all my family responsibility leave with my child being sick and have a death in my family before my next cycle, can I get more? Only if motivated and approved by the Executive Director: Human Resources. We will take into consideration your general absenteeism record, previous use of family responsibility leave, and the circumstances of the loss. If approved, family responsibility leave from the following cycle will be used.
12
My child needs to go for an annual check-up appointment at the doctor. Can I use family responsibility leave? No, you may only use family responsibility leave when your child is sick, and you need to take care of him or her. You should use annual leave for a check-up appointment such as this.
13
My child was only sick for one day, why must I produce a medical certificate? You have already used days 1 and 2 of your family responsibility leave entitlement and have now applied to use day 3, 4 or 5. A medical certificate is always required for days 3, 4 or 5.
14
Why must I produce a death certificate to attend a funeral when I don't have to provide a medical certificate for one day of caring for a sick family member? The rules are different for death certificates and medical certificates. In the case of death, a death certificate is always required when applying for any day of your family responsibility leave entitlement. In the case of illness, a medical certificate is only required for days 3, 4 and 5.
Study & research and contact leave
  Question Answer
1
How much study & research and contact leave am I entitled to? Deans, permanent full-time academic staff on academic conditions of service: 2 months per year. HODs and Deputy Deans in acting roles: 2 months per year plus 1 or 2 weeks depending on length of contract.

Academic staff on T2 contracts are not eligible but, if the contract is full-time and later becomes permanent, the period of the contract may be recognised for study and research leave, if continuing in the same position.

Academics on T1 and ad hoc or paid-on-claim contracts are not entitled to study & research leave.
2
Do PASS staff qualify for study & research leave? No.
3
Can I take study & research leave in the year I retire? Study & research leave may be taken at any time up to retirement but must be of benefit to the university and scholarship generally. Each application will be considered on its merits. General recommendations are that it would not be practical to do this in the year of retirement as fulfilment of benefits to the university would be limited.
4
What is the difference between contact leave and study & research leave? Does contact leave come off my study & research leave balance? Contact leave is for shorter periods intended to enable staff to establish and maintain contact with colleagues pursuing common research interests or to collect material for research. Between 3 weeks and 3 months may be used as contact leave, while study & research leave is for longer periods of 6, 9 or 12 months. Study and research leave is intended for periods of uninterrupted study and research. Both types come off the study & research leave balance.
5
I will be resigning, having returned from study and research leave last month. Will there be an impact on my pay? Yes, you will be required to refund the University for the period of study and research leave taken and any travel grant or other allowance received.
6
I have been invited to a prestigious university for a full year, but only have 8 months of study & research leave available. Can a month be granted in advance? Study and research leave is not normally granted in advance and unpaid leave may need to be taken. Any exceptions would need to be motivated and approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic.
7
What is the accrual date for my study & research leave? It accrues on your appointment anniversary date.
8
If I take study & research leave for a full year, am I still entitled to annual leave? Annual leave is seen as part of the 12 months. No additional annual leave is given for that year.
9
Who do I contact for my study & research leave balance? Speak to your HR Administrator.
10
Can I give my study & research leave to someone else? No, this benefit is applicable to your contract of employment only.
Parental leave (previously maternity and paternity leave)
  Question Answer
1
How much parental leave (previously maternity/paternity leave) am I entitled to? Permanent and T2 staff members are entitled to 4 months' full pay parental leave for the birth mother (keeping the child) or primary adoptive parent. Alternatively, a permanent or T2 staff member is entitled to five days full pay parenting partner leave if he or she is the legal guardian in either a case of adoption or birth.

Staff members on T1 contracts are entitled to four months' unpaid maternity leave as per the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Ad hoc and paid-on-claim staff are not entitled to paid or unpaid parental leave (previously maternity or paternity leave).
2
My partner is having a baby. Do I get an additional 5 days family responsibility leave on top of the parenting partner parental leave (previously paternity)? No, family responsibility leave is for anguish caused from the death of a loved one, or the need to take care of a loved one who is ill. Your partner's birth is not an illness. However, if there are circumstances in which your partner requires medical attention and/or care, and you can provide a medical certificate, then family responsibility leave may be granted.
3
My pregnancy has not been easy and the doctor has booked me off work prior to the birth. Is it parental leave (birth mother, previously maternity) or sick leave? You may use sick leave prior to the birth and a medical certificate would be required.
4
I'm afraid of losing my position if I go on parental leave (previously maternity) following a pregnancy. It is a requirement by law that you return to the same position you had before leaving on parental leave (previously maternity). By implication, the position must be at the same COE and level.
5
I'm concerned about breast feeding after my return to work. How will UCT accommodate me? According to policy, there shall be reasonable accommodation for breastfeeding mothers as regards work schedules for a period of at least 12 months from the date of birth.
6
Can I take annual leave after parental leave? Yes, if you have annual leave available, and subject to HOD approval.
7
Can my parental leave (birth mother or primary adoptive parent, previously maternity) be extended beyond the 4 months paid? No, if you need more time it will have to be annual or unpaid leave.
8
I am on a T1 contract. Am I entitled to parental leave (birth mother or primary adoptive parent, previously maternity)? Yes but it will be unpaid parental leave (previously maternity) and UIF should be applied for.
9
I am pregnant, can I take a day off work once a month
for an antenatal visit?
You may not take a full day for this. The necessary time off (an hour or two) is allowed, subject to the following:
  • A medical certificate confirming pregnancy
  • Authorisation for the absence obtained 24 hours before
  • Proof of attendance at each visit.

Any additional time off must be taken as sick leave.

10
I have returned to work following parental leave (birth mother or primary adoptive parent, previously maternity) on flexible hours. If I take annual leave during this time will it be part days too? When you take leave, it will be a full day's annual leave. Annual leave is never given in half days.

Note: Leave accrual during this period will be reduced, pro-rated according to days worked per week.
11
When can parental leave be shared? Parental leave can be shared if both partners are employed at UCT as T2 or permanent staff members. They must declare via affidavit that they are taking parental leave for the same child(ren) and must submit the leave applications together.

The leave entitlement (parental or adoption, plus parenting partner leave) may be shared between the two parents (taking into account legislative requirements) and may overlap or run concurrently.
Special leave
  Question Answer
1
How much special leave am I entitled to? All permanent and T2 PASS and academic staff are eligible for special leave. T1 staff are eligible for special leave on UCT business only. Ad hoc and paid on claim staff are not eligible for any type of special leave.

The amount of special leave is not specified as it depends on requirements. However, special leave applications in excess of 15 days require approval of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for academic staff, and the Executive Director: Human Resources for PASS staff.
2
How does special leave differ from study & research leave? Study and research leave accrues, and is used for recommended time periods (up to the maximum), for the purposes of completing research or for contact with colleagues, in the interests of academic research. It is only available to academics. Rights and pay are not affected.

Special leave does not accrue, is given for any time period as necessary when the staff member needs to be away on personal or UCT business. It is available to both PASS and academic staff and may be granted with or without pay and with or without rights, as per the policy.
3
I don't qualify for study and research leave because I am on a T2 contract. Can I take 6 months of special leave, similar to those who qualify for study & research leave? No, generally contracts are given for a specific purpose, which would not normally include the requirement to take study & research leave. However, should your position become permanent the period served as a full time contract appointee may be recognised for study and research leave entitlement, provided you are appointed to the same position.
4
What supporting documents are required for my special leave application? Fill in form HR140 (Leave), stating the reason for special leave and attach the relevant motivation, itinerary etc.

If applying for special leave without pay, consult the Payroll Officer and attach form HR144 (Special Leave Without Pay).
5
Is there a quota for special leave? No, this type of leave is not accrued. See Question 1 in this section.
6
What is the difference between paid special leave and unpaid special leave? Paid special leave is for absences on UCT business, for example attending a conference or undertaking fieldwork up to 15 days or, in approved cases, to participate in sporting events. Unpaid special leave is for absences on private professional business i.e. not UCT business but related to your discipline or profession. Unpaid special leave is also used for personal business.
7
UCT is sending me on a course for work purposes; do I need to complete a special leave form? It is best practice for development activities, in which you are absent from the workplace, to be recorded via special leave. You should fill out a leave form for special leave (with pay and rights) giving the reason as work-related training or development or conference etc.
8
What is the difference between unpaid leave and special leave without pay? Unpaid leave is for less than 15 days, special leave without pay is for 15 days and more.

This is usually applied for as an extension of parental leave (birth mother or primary adoptive parent, previously maternity leave) and when annual leave has run out.
Leave pay outs
  Question Answer
1
What happens to my untaken leave when my employment ends (resignation, retirement, end of contract etc.) Academic staff with untaken annual leave can be paid out on written approval of the Head of Department and Dean. This approval must be attached to the HR145 form (Termination) and should specify the number of days to be paid out.

Study & research leave is only paid out on retirement.
2
Is it possible to have my annual leave paid out (e.g. if I elect to work instead of taking leave in order to cash in my annual leave)? You may not elect to have leave paid out.
3
I am transferring to another position in a different department at UCT. Will my leave be paid out? If you have untaken annual leave, this must be discussed with your current department. Your study & research leave balance is transferred with you and may only be paid out on retirement.
Public and religious holidays
  Question Answer
1
I want to take off a day for a religious holiday, but it's not a public holiday. If the University is not closed, you are required to be at work. You should use annual leave for any religious holidays that are not public holidays.
2
I am going on religious pilgrimage. What type of leave should I use? You should use annual leave, if available, or unpaid leave.
Unpaid leave
  Question Answer
1
What is the maximum number of unpaid leave days I can take before having to pay in towards my benefits? This depends on the cost of your benefits and the number of unpaid days you're taking, but is often around 15 days.

Note: If on unpaid leave, you do not accrue leave or receive a salary but are still required to make the minimum contribution to your benefits (6.5% to UCTRF and a full medical aid contribution).
Management of leave
  Question Answer
1
How do I know if my staff member is abusing their sick leave? First, ensure that leave records are kept and forms filled out.

Insist on a medical certificate when required according to policy. Read the medical certificate carefully.
  • You are entitled to call the medical practitioner to verify the doctor's visit.
  • Check that the practitioner is qualified to make the diagnosis.
  • Do the dates of the certificate match the dates of the absence?
  • Can the practitioner verify the illness or only state that he or she has 'been informed' that the person was ill at a previous date.
If a staff member is absent more than twice in an 8-week period you are entitled to ask for a medical certificate no matter how long the absence is.
For more insight, please attend Organisational Health: Managing the Medico-legal Minefield (a series of seminars) as described in the Staff Learning Resource Guide.
2
My staff member is absent without leave (AWOL). What do I do? Report the absence as AWOL using form HR140 after 2 days. Ask your HR Practitioner for advice. If the absence continues for more than 5 days it is deemed abscondment and disciplinary action may be taken. Contact our Employee Relations Section for advice.
3
A staff member has resigned. Can I find out whether her leave records are up to date and what the cost of the leave pay-out will be? Yes, speak to your HR Administrator.
4
How quickly should I expect a staff member to report his or her absence from work, for example when falling sick? The absence should be reported as soon as possible. According to UCT standards of conduct for PASS staff, a staff member is expected to be at work during working hours. Any absence must be with permission. This implies that the staff member must contact you to report his or her absence, and to gain approval for the absence, if at all possible, by the start of the working day.
5
Can I contact my staff member's doctor to verify the details on a medical certificate? Yes. You can verify that the staff member saw the practitioner on that date, that the practitioner is registered and qualified to make the diagnosis, as well as the number of days that the staff member was booked off for. However, no confidential information should be asked for or given.
6
Where can I get reports on leave taken by staff in my department? Ask your HR Practitioner for assistance.
7
How do I manage time off in lieu of overtime worked by
staff?
Although not required, best practice is for line managers to submit a leave form HR140 - filling in the days taken in lieu of overtime - in order to keep a record, particularly where a day or more is taken.

Page last updated: 18 January 2017