Can Teaching Assistants Take Leave Days?

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The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) guides employers and employees in South Africa around fair employment labour practices. However, does this legislation extend to teaching assistants employed at schools in the country?


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The Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI) was recognised as a crucial programme in reducing youth unemployment in the country. The initiative is said to have created around 300 000 employment opportunities for unemployed youth at schools in their local communities through the Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI).

Phase 3 of the initiative is set to conclude at the end of August 2022. The Department of Education (DBE) has decided to close new appointments of assistants, as no new appointment could be made after 15 June 2022.

Audit findings of the first phase of the programme found that there was no value in assistants being paid full stipends for days that they were absent.

The DBE said while assistants were entitled to one vacation day for every month worked, they will lose a day's remuneration for any extra days taken. They however warned that schools cannot make any arbitrary deductions which are not in line with the contract signed by the youth.

The department said, “Where an individual has taken leave more than the days they are entitled to, there will be a pro-rata deduction for the month in which the excess leave days were taken.”

Phase 3 of the initiative saw the stipend set at the National Minimum Wage (NMW) of R23.19 for each ordinary hour worked. This meant that the youth received R4 081,44. However, deductions for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) which are equal to 1% of their monthly salary being deducted, leaving assistants with R4 040,44. 

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