Are you obliged to pay your employee for days that s/he is absent without permission?
Section 34 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) provides that:
(1) An employer may not make any deduction from an employee’s remuneration unless—
(a) subject to subsection (2), the employee in writing agrees to the deduction in respect of a debt specified in the agreement; or
(b) the deduction is required or permitted in terms of a law, collective agreement, court order or arbitration award.
This section does not mean that employees must receive their full salaries at the end of the month whether or not they were actually at work.
In terms of section 20 (6) of the BCEA an employer must grant an employee, at the written request of the employee, annual leave during a period of unpaid leave. That means that if an employee is absent without leave you may reduce his annual leave by days absent without permission.
However, if the employee does not have any annual leave due, do you pay the employee for days absent or can you reduce the employee’s salary?
There is an obligation on the employee to be at work and to actually work in order to be remunerated. If s/he works fewer hours or days contracted then s/he will receive a lesser salary if s/he has no annual leave due.
Employers are advised to act against employees that stay away from work without permission and those that do not submit medical certificates when expected to do so in terms of the law and company policies. The fact that the employee is not paid for such unauthorised absenteeism is not punitive by nature and the employer will be within his right to issue a warning for such offences.