My friends and I were sitting having ice cream, discussing our various employment conditions of service (also known as whining about work), when the issue of sick leave or lack thereof arose. It was discovered that almost everyone’s contract contained a clause somewhat stating;
The employee shall be entitled to one month of sick leave after which the company shall be entitled to terminate the agreement.
Thus, I figured I could shed some light on what the Employment Act actually says in regards to illness and how it should be treated.
THE EMPLOYMENT ACT (CHAPTER 268 OF THE LAWS OF ZAMBIA) begins by saying;
Where owing to sickness or accident an employee is unable to fulfill a written contract of service, the contract may be terminated on the report of a registered medical practitioner.
In a subsequent paragraph it goes to say;
Except as may be provided in any contract of service, collective agreement or other written law more favourable to the employee, if any employee becomes temporarily incapacitated in consequence of sickness or accident not occasioned by his own default, such employee shall, provided he has produced a valid medical certificate, receive pay for the days absent up to a maximum of twenty-six working days in any period of twelve months.
This might serve to explain why most of my friends contracts stated one month. However a more favorable law does exist in the THE MINIMUM WAGES AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT ACT;
(1) An employee who is unable to execute normal duties due to illness or accident not occasioned by the default of the employee shall on production of medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner or medical institution designated by the employer, be granted paid sick leave at the following rates:
(a) at full pay during the first three months; and
(b) thereafter at half pay for the next three months:
Provided that if the employee has not recovered from illness or accident after six months from the date of illness or accident, the employer may on the recommendation of a registered medical practitioner or medical institution designated by the employer, discharge the employee, whereupon the entitlement to sick leave shall cease.
(2) A female employee shall be granted leave of absence without loss of pay to enable her to nurse her sick child who has been hospitalised, if due to nature of illness the child requires special attention: Provided that an employer may, before granting such leave, require the employee to produce certificate from a medical institution recommending that the leave be granted.
(3) Days taken as leave under sub-paragraph (2) shall not be deducted from the employee’s accrued leave days.
Thus as it is “other written law more favourable to the employee” it would be reasonable to assume that this is the laws current standing on employees sick leave in Zambia.