Categories: Business NewsNews
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2023-12-06 11:19 AM

South Africa’s 2023 December Sees Five Public Holidays

  • Additional Public Holiday Declaration: President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement of an extra public holiday on December 15, 2023, under the Public Holidays Act, increasing the usual count from four to five during December in South Africa.
  • Legal Implications for Businesses: The legal implications for businesses as per the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) regarding employee compensation on public holidays. It outlines how employees' entitlements vary based on whether the public holiday aligns with their regular work schedule and whether they work on that day.
  • Impact on South African Businesses: The article highlights the implications of this additional holiday for businesses, including potential cost implications, the need for compliance with legal regulations, and the necessity for businesses to plan and manage their operations effectively during the extended holiday period.
By Miriam Matoma

In a recent development affecting South African businesses, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an additional public holiday on Friday, 15 December 2023, under section 2A of the Public Holidays Act. This decision amplifies the usual count of four public holidays in December to now encompass five.

Traditionally, the month of December in South Africa is marked by four significant public holidays:

  • 16 December: Day of Reconciliation
  • 25 December: Christmas Day
  • 26 December: Day of Goodwill
  • 1 January: New Year’s Day

These dates are part of the 12 public holidays stipulated by the Public Holidays Act 36 of 1994. With the inclusion of the new public holiday on 15 December, President Ramaphosa’s declaration prompts considerations for businesses across the nation.

According to legal experts at Cliff Dekker Hofmeyr, this additional public holiday will bear cost implications for businesses employing staff, aligning with the regulations outlined in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).

The BCEA stipulates that when an employee works on a public holiday, including an additional one declared as such, the employer must adhere to certain provisions when determining the compensation for the employee. Key considerations revolve around the employee’s ordinary work schedule.

If the public holiday aligns with a day an employee typically works and they render service on that day, they are entitled to either double their ordinary wage for the day or receive their ordinary wage for the day along with the earnings accrued during the time worked on that day, whichever amount is greater.

However, in cases where the public holiday falls on a day the employee would usually work, but they do not render service on that day, they are entitled to their regular wage for the day.

Alternatively, if the public holiday falls on a day outside the employee’s usual work schedule and they choose to work on that day, they are entitled to their standard wage along with the amount earned for the work performed on that day, calculated by reference to time worked or any other appropriate method.

Businesses in South Africa are advised to review and ensure compliance with these stipulations within the BCEA to mitigate any potential legal ramifications related to compensation for their employees during this additional public holiday.

The announcement of this supplementary public holiday presents both opportunities and challenges for businesses across various sectors in South Africa. While it offers an extended period for celebrations and potential economic activities, it also necessitates careful planning to manage operational costs and address workforce compensation in accordance with legal requirements.

As South African businesses navigate the implications of this additional public holiday, proactive measures in reviewing policies, communicating with employees, and understanding legal obligations will be pivotal in maintaining smooth operations while honoring statutory requirements.

Understanding the financial and legal implications of this change in the holiday schedule will empower businesses to strategize effectively, ensuring both operational continuity and compliance with labor regulations during the festive season.

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Miriam Matoma

Miriam is a freelance writer, she covers economics and government news for Rateweb. You can contact her on: Email: miriam@rateweb.co.za Twitter: @MatomaMiriam