Payment of Employees for Public Holidays

Section 18 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act provides as follows:

“(2) If a public holiday falls on a day on which an employee would ordinarily work, an employer must pay –

(a) an employee who does not work on the public holiday, at least the wage that the employee would ordinarily have received for work on that day.”

The section provides for no exceptions. Should the employee not be required to work on the public holiday that falls on a day on which s/he would ordinarily have worked, the employee must be paid his/her ordinary wage for the day. 

This includes those employees who have been placed on short time or those who have been laid off as they still fall within the definition of an “employee” as provided for in section 18 of the BCEA. Irrespective of a lay off or short-time working arrangements, an employee remains employed and his/her contract of employment remains in force.

For example, as employees would ordinarily work on a Tuesday, the day on which Youth Day fell this year, they would accordingly be entitled to receive their full ordinary remuneration for this day.  This interpretation is supported by the Public Holidays Act which states that an employee is entitled to be paid for the number of public holidays that are detailed in the Act – currently 12 days in a year. The Public Holidays Act also creates no exception to this payment. 

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