As we get closer to the Christmas Season, I have noted many queries about taking leave over the Christian Religious holidays at the end of the year.  Now is the time for individuals who want to take leave over the religious holidays to apply for this leave.  We have just come out of Eid-ul-Adha on the 16th October 2013, some disputes have arisen as to whether individuals were entitled to take these days off or not, obviously timeous application for such leave is the answer.

It should be noted that religious leave is not given as of right in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act; furthermore, many businesses will find that their operational requirements need to be satisfied over for instance, on Christmas day.  This will be particularly true of those businesses in the tourism and entertainment industry.  Whilst it is understood that many individuals need to fulfil their religious requirements and duties, employers will also state that they need to ensure that their business survives through these tough economic times.

It is always recommended that when an individual applies for a position that that individual would point out to a future employer that they are members of a particular faith and that they will require certain days off during the year.  This requirement would then be underlined when the individual applies timeously for their religious leave.  Most of the religious calendars are calculated years in advance and all it takes is proper planning for an individual to apply months in advance for a particular day off.  It is also understood that some holidays might have some variation but this variation is not more than one or two days apart.  It does not help to demand leave in the week prior to the religious holiday.  It also does not help to then stay away when the leave has been denied.

The reality is that employers have to administer their businesses on a daily basis and need to structure their workforce so as to meet their operational requirements.  If an employer knows months in advance that a certain individual will not be able to be present then the employer has no good reason to deny the religious leave.