In an interesting and far reaching judgment in the Labour Court of South Africa, the Labour Court ruled if an employee has not taken his or her leave within six months after the completion of an annual leave cycle then that employee would forfeit his or her leave. In the court case Jooste vs Kohler Packaging, the Judge said that an employer may not refuse an employee leave and that the act contemplates that leave will be taken. To permit payment in respect to prior leave cycles would be to permit both the employer and the employee to circumvent the act.
This judgment is far reaching in that often employees accrue many years worth of leave much to their final detriment.
There is an obligation on the employer to grant leave before the expiry of the six month period after the leave cycle. It should be noted that an employee does not have a right to take leave at any time, that the leave taken ought ideally the subject of an agreement between the parties. In the absence of the agreement the employer may determine the time at which the leave must be taken. There are many contracts of employment which nominate the time when leave must be taken.