There are several types of leave that an employee may be entitled to. Some forms of leave are statutory entitlements and some other forms are not. Maternity Leave, for instance, must be given to employees when they are pregnant. Some forms of leave are paid and others are not. This can depend on statutory obligations and on the terms and conditions set out in the Contract of Employment. Annual Leave is a statutory entitlement and it must be paid by the
employer. Sick Leave, however, is not always paid by the employer (this depends on individual company policies).
Force Majeure Leave is less commonly discussed. The purpose of Force Majeure Leave is to provide limited, paid leave to enable an employee to deal with family emergencies resulting from injury or illness of a close family member. Force Majeure Leave applies where the immediate presence of the employee is urgent and indispensable (essential).
A close family member is defined as one of the following:
- A child or adopted child of the employee
- The husband/wife/partner (same or opposite sex) of the employee
- A parent/grandparent of the employee
- A brother/sister of the employee
- A person to whom the employee has a duty of care (where he or she is acting in loco parentis)
- A person in a relationship of domestic dependency with the employee
- Persons of any other class (if any) as may be prescribed
By its nature, an employee will not usually be able to give notice of the need to take Force Majeure Leave. The employee should, however, inform the employer (in writing) of reasons for taking the leave as soon as is reasonable practicable. The employee should provide details regarding the need for the leave and should confirm who the leave was taken in respect of.
Employers are obliged to keep a record of Force Majeure Leave taken by employees.
Employees will be entitled to:
– up to 3 days paid Force Majeure Leave in any consecutive 12 month period; or
– up to 5 days in a 36 consecutive month period.
Absence for part of a day is usually counted as a full day of Force Majeure Leave. Employees are entitled to receive pay for this type of leave. Employers can grant employees more than the number of days outlined above; however, they are not obliged to do so.
Employees are protected against Unfair Dismissal for taking Force Majeure Leave or for proposing to take it.
Death is not covered under Force Majeure Leave – Leave taken when a death occurs falls under Compassionate Leave and this tends to depend on employee contracts as well as custom and practice within the workplace.