Home Page ->
Legal Articles -> Funeral long, leave too short: what to do
Welcome to Scorpion’s Legal Tips! Every week we’ll share stories of injustice and show you how you can strike back legally.
Funerals can be a difficult time, with many arrangements that need to be made. What happens if you take leave for a funeral, but things end up taking longer than you expected and now you need to extend your leave. Can your employer refuse? What if you take it anyway, can they fire you? Scorpion Legal Protection discusses.
Employees who work at least 4 days per week are entitled to 3 days of family responsibility leave per year on full pay. This leave expires at the end of the year (or 12-month cycle), so you cannot save it up. If you take all your family responsibility leave and then need more because the funeral is taking longer than expected, you will have to take annual leave. If you have not used up all your family responsibility leave, and then call your employer to inform them that you will need more leave because the funeral took longer than expected, the employer cannot refuse to give you this leave.
However, it’s important to remember that family responsibility leave for a funeral can only be used for the death of your spouse/life partner, parent/adoptive parent, grandparent, child/adopted child, grandchild, or sibling. The death of an aunt, uncle, friend or anyone not mentioned in the list above does not count and you cannot take family responsibility leave to attend their funerals, you will need to take regular leave for this.
Your employer is allowed to refuse your request for an extension. If you decide to take the leave anyway and ignore your employer’s refusal, your employer could take this as you absconding from work.
Absconding means you are absent from work without any intention of returning and fulfilling your duties. However, the employer cannot just fire employees, even if they have absconded. A disciplinary hearing must be called and a reason like a funeral taking longer than expected, especially in the case where you let your employer know that you will need extra leave, is usually not strong enough to fire you. If this does happen, you may have a case of unfair dismissal and can go to the CCMA.
You may also be interested in:
How to fill in the CCMA referral form
Final warning without previous warnings?
Disciplinary hearings explained step by step
We have a team of lawyers available to answer your legal questions every first Thursday of the month from 11:30 to 13:30 on the Scorpion Legal Protection Facebook page for free. Have your legal question answered on the spot at the Scorpion Live Q&A.
* This is only basic legal advice and cannot be relied on solely. The information is correct at the time of being sent to publishing.
Date added: 9 June 2022
If you prefer to leave us an online query, please complete the form below and we will call you back.
Please select an enquiry type
Membership card / policy update query
Income Tax query
Last will & testament
Please select a complaint type
Poor service/Rude staff