South Africa

Extra public holiday for South Africa in December

President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared 27 December a public holiday.

The declaration was made in terms of Section 2(A) of the Public Holidays Act which provides that “whenever a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday shall be a public holiday”.

Christmas day, 25 December, falls on Sunday this year. Typically, when public holidays fall on a Sunday, the following Monday becomes the ‘extra’ day off. However, in this case, Monday, 26 December – Day of Goodwill – is also a public holiday.

Without the declaration, the country would have only had 11 of the 12 days off for the year.

The presidency said that Monday’s observing of Christmas Day and Day of Goodwill will overlap to uphold relevant labour law principles and practices.

The same principle applies for 1 January 2023, which falls on a Sunday. The ‘extra’ holidays are as follows:

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  • 25 December: Christmas Day
  • 26 December: Day of Goodwill
  • 27 December: Public Holiday
  • 1 January: New Year’s Day
  • 2 January: New Year’s Day observed

South Africans will enjoy Tuesday, 27 December 2022, as a public holiday in lieu of Christmas Day falling on a Sunday, following a declaration to this effect by President @CyrilRamaphosa in terms of Section 2A of the Public Holidays Act (Act No 36 of 1994) https://t.co/ClSVbL2AFK

— Presidency | South Africa 🇿🇦 (@PresidencyZA) December 8, 2022

South Africans who are already on leave over the period will hardly notice the change, but the declaration holds implications for those working over the period and for employers who have to pay them.

According to legal experts at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH), if an employee works on a public holiday, the employer must consider the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (BCEA) when determining the amount to pay the employee.

In particular, the employer must consider whether the public holiday falls on a day on which the employee would ordinarily work.

If the public holiday falls on a day on which the employee would ordinarily work, and the employee works on that public holiday, the employee is entitled to double their ordinary wage for the day or, if greater, the employee’s ordinary wage for the day “plus the amount earned by the employee for the time worked on that day”.

However, if the employee does not work on the public holiday, which falls on a day the employee would ordinarily work, the employee is entitled to their ordinary wage for the day.

If the public holiday falls on a day on which the employee would not ordinarily work, and the employee works on that public holiday, the employee is entitled to their ordinary wage for the day and “the amount earned by the employee for the work performed that day, whether calculated by reference to time worked or any other method”.

“Importantly, the Labour Appeal Court has held that based on an interpretation of the Act, if the public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Sunday remains a public holiday in addition to the following Monday,” CDH said.

In other words, an employer is required to treat both days as a public holiday and to remunerate an employee accordingly, with reference to the abovementioned provisions of the BCEA, depending on whether the employee works on the public holidays.

“It follows that in those instances where the public holiday falls on a Sunday, employees shall enjoy an additional public holiday for the year in question. The same applies in respect of Sunday, 1 January 2023, where both that day, together with the Monday following it, are deemed to be public holidays,” it said.

Read: The number of public holidays in South Africa vs the rest of the world

Artmotion S.Africa

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