Wholesale change in government's special leave policy
According to the Public Service and Administration Department (DPSA), a final draft agreement in compliance with a 2001 resolution of the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council which provides for a special leave dispensation, will effectively reduce types of special leave from 67 to 13 and lead to the government saving R1.9bn.
The current special leave policy makes provision for special leave to be negotiated by the employer in the relevant sectoral bargaining council.
The policy indicates the circumstances or responsibilities under which the employer shall authorise special leave with full pay and the events for which such leave cannot be provided.
“The policy may provide paid leave for such requirements - study, examinations, military service, re-settlement due to a transfer, collective bargaining or other labour-relations requirements, participation in sports, sabbaticals where appropriate, or any other purpose,” states the current policy.
In terms of the new draft agreement, except for collective bargaining or other labour-relations requirements and sabbaticals, special leave will be granted for research for a post-graduate qualification and attending classes during working hours and participation in amateur sports to support the development of sporting codes and the transformation agenda.
Public servants will also be granted special leave for cultural events whose purpose is to foster social cohesion and when employees have been selected by a registered cultural organisation to represent the country or a province.
Other categories of special leave include religious holidays not recognised as public holidays, natural and other unforeseen disasters where employees are unable to report for duty and rehabilitation for substance abuse at an institution or clinic.
It will also be granted to support employees who are victims of sexual harassment in the workplace and in cases where there are community or third party protests to accommodate employees directly affected by these events and prevented from reporting for duty.
Public servants appearing as witnesses in criminal and misconduct cases, civil matters in their official capacities, before a commission or committee of inquiry and inquest, attending interviews and undertaking study tours will also be granted special leave.
Last week, DPSA director-general Professor Richard Levin said the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council had concluded negotiations on special leave in the public sector.
Cosatu affiliates the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union and the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union as well as the Public Servants Association, are seeking to obtain mandates to seal the deal.