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South Africa

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This content is for informational purposes only. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this content. It is not legal advice and shall not be relied on as such.

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Work Hours


South Africa, a top tourist destination, is located in the southernmost part of Africa. Cape Town is the legislative capital and Pretoria, the administrative capital, while Johannesburg is home to the Constitutional Court of South Africa. The country has 11 official languages and a multi-lingual population. English is widely used in media, business and government. With stable institutions, an independent judiciary, and good infrastructure, South Africa offers plenty of opportunities to expand. The country continues to draw investors seeking a low-risk location in Africa and a fast-growing consumer market.

An employment contract in South Africa can be either for an indefinite term or a fixed term.

Employers must provide the employee with a document containing at least the details of the parties, a brief description of the job, position, working hours, wage particularities, leave, notice period, and if for a fixed term, the date of completion. The document must be in a language in which the employee can understand. Otherwise, the employer must explain its terms and conditions in a manner that the employee can understand correctly.

Fixed-term contracts are not designed for permanent positions. Fixed-term contracts are usually for work that is for a specific period of time necessary to perform the temporary needs of the business, such as for a specified event or the completion of a specified task or project.

The standard work week in South Africa is 45 hours a week and nine hours a day for five or fewer days in a week. For employees working more than five days a week, the limit is eight hours a day. It may be extended up to 15 minutes in a day but not more than 60 minutes in a week for employees whose duties include working with the public.

During each 36-month cycle, employees in South Africa are entitled to paid sick leave equal to the number of days they work in six weeks. If they work five days per week, their entitlement every 36 months is 30 days of paid sick leave. If they work six days per week, their entitlement is 36 days of paid sick leave. During the first six months, employees receive one day of sick leave for every 26 days of work.

A female employee receives four months of paid maternity leave in South Africa. Unless otherwise agreed, it begins one month before the birth, or on the date indicated in a medical certificate. The employee is prohibited from returning to work within six weeks of the birth unless a medical practitioner certifies otherwise. The remuneration is subject to contributions to UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund). Fathers and adopting parents are entitled to 10 days unpaid parental leave when their children are born. The father must submit at least one calendar month’s written notice before the leave.

South Africa has a minimum wage. Bonuses are not required.

In addition to holidays, employees receive 21 days a year of paid vacation leave in South Africa. By agreement, the benefit can be one day for every 17 days worked, or one hour for every 17 hours worked. An employer must give an additional day of paid leave if a public holiday falls on a day during an employee’s annual leave. The annual leave must be paid before the starting date.

In South Africa, the public holidays are:

  • New Year’s Day

  • Human Rights Day

  • Good Friday

  • Family Day

  • Freedom Day

  • Workers Day

  • Youth Day

  • National Women’s Day

  • Heritage Day

  • Day of Reconciliation

  • Christmas Day

  • Day of Goodwill

Employers typically offer private insurance to their employees even though South Africa has a public health care system.

The notice period for termination in South Africa is between one and four weeks depending on the employee's years of service.

  • Local Laws & Regulations

    We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.

  • Partner with atlas logo

    Partnering with Atlas when expanding into South Africa can dramatically reduce the standard brick and mortar processes of doing business in foreign markets and allow you to focus on what you do best, growing your company! To discover more about how Atlas can simplify your ability to expand globally, please feel free to contact us.

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