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The saying goes that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, thus the need for every worker to have a time off work to recreate energy after a period of time. It is necessary that having worked continuously for one calendar year in any undertaking or enterprise one needs to take a break in the form of vacation or holiday to rest and come back refreshed.

The promulgators of the Labour Law therefore under Section 20 of Act 651 in recognition of the importance of leave made provision for leave entitlement for every worker. Thus, the issue of annual leave entitlement is a legal requirement that the employer should provide as part of the offer of a contract of employment.

Pursuant to the above- mentioned section, every worker is entitled to at least fifteen (15) working days paid leave in a calendar year. The import of this provision is that every worker needs a minimum break of 15 working days every year that the worker works. The days however can be more depending on what has been negotiated or agreed upon in the contract of employment.

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In the Public and Civil Service, for example, annual leave ranges from between twenty- one (21) days to thirty – six (36) days depending on an individual workers’ position in the service.

The emphasis on working days is paramount to underscore the fact that leave days are exclusive of weekends and public holidays, except where in a particular enterprise the working days include weekends.

A writer,  Das Govid wrote in a Feature Article that Annual leave has pros and cons but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. He outlined the enormous benefits which among others include shaking off job stress, accessing a medical facility for fitness so one does not suffer from psychological health problems and above all freshening up one’s memories to increase productivity on the job.

Statistics available on the subject matter obtained from the Industrial Relations Department of the National Labour Commission (NLC) as evidence by the cases handled by the Department revealed that of all the entitlements due workers , leave entitlement is the least enjoyed by over 60 percent of complainants. The reason is  either because the employer did not factor it into the contract of employment or there is a provision for annual leave but due to low staff strength, the leave is forfeited or accumulated for many years. Also in some cases the worker is not interested in enjoying his or her annual leave for reasons best known to him/her.

But as working people, it is important to subscribe to Govid’s school of thought on annual leave and live by them and further investigate what experts say about work-related stress since it is injurious to our health. Incidentally, the nation has lost prominent men of our land resident home and abroad to job stress. It is incumbent on the labour force to take a cue from these events and turn a new leaf. Additionally, let us be particularly mindful of Section 31 of the Labour Law which states that “any agreement to relinquish the leave entitlement or forgo such leave is void.”

In order to ensure conformity with the Law and to have a healthy workforce, the onus lies on the Human Resource Managers to develop and keep Annual Leave Rosters to manage leave in every enterprise or undertaking where workers work continuously for one year. Typically,  it is realized that in most cases complainants have accumulated annual leave for two to five years, an indication that leave administration by employers is a major human resource management challenge in this country and employers need to do something about it. This arrangement will help minimize and prevent leave disputes which is one of the many complaints filed with the NLC.

Again, every employer must bear in mind the fact that any neglect of its part to ensure that its employees take their annual leave has serious consequence. This is because in times of leave dispute the employer will be faced with the burden of commuting to cash all earned leave which has not been enjoyed at the time of the dispute.

Meanwhile, it is also important to note that Sections 24, 25 and 57 respectively state that annual leave entitlement shall not be affected by sick leave, maternity leave and termination of employment.

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ADR Daily is a specialized news portal with a focus on providing authentic news, information and research analysis on Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR), Human Resource Management (HRM) and Industrial Relations Management (IRM) in Ghana and beyond. This platform serves as an information resource base for the progress of the ADR, HRM and IRM industries, and seeks to promote professionalism in ADR practice by supporting a network of ADR professionals within and across nations and continents. ADR Daily keenly encourages the mass adoption of ADR mechanisms, particularly negotiation, mediation and arbitration for the resolution of disputes in all spheres, through the publication of industry news and information, as well as by deploying innovative awareness creation engagements.