According to Section 25 of Act 651:
(1) Every worker is entitled to enjoy an unbroken period of leave but an employer, in cases of urgent necessity, may in accordance with this section, require a worker to interrupt his or her leave and return to work.
(2) Where a worker is required by the employer to interrupt his or her leave in the circumstances specified in subsection (1) the worker shall not forfeit the right to the remainder of the leave but shall take the leave anytime thereafter.
(3) Where a worker takes his or her annual leave at the end of a calendar year, the leave may continue except as provided in subsection (1) without interruption, into the following year.
Based on Section 25(1), an employer may require a worker to interrupt (and thus defer) their leave and return to work. Practically, it also means an employer may require a worker, for the same urgent necessity reason, to continue working even though the worker is due to start their leave.
So, Section 25 provisions are effectively at the instance of the employer, designed to take care of emergency situations. But if the worker took the initiative and the employer did not stop him, then I guess the principle of estoppel sets in. One can imply an agreement between the worker and the employer so long as the employer was aware the worker did not proceed on leave and rather continued working, and the employer did not take any steps to request the worker to proceed on leave on the due date. That is to say, the leave of the worker is deemed as deferred (accumulated) in accordance with Section 25 if, out of urgent necessity of their work, they do not take their annual leave as scheduled.
However, the worker is required by Subsection 2 to “take the leave anytime thereafter.”
Section 31 says the worker can’t relinquish or forgo their leave. Accumulating or Deferring your leave is to delay it, while to forgo it means to forfeit it. So, Section 25 and 31 are well in sync.
In conclusion, there is indeed such a thing as Accumulated Leave under the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651). An employee “shall not forfeit the right to the remainder of the leave but shall take the leave anytime thereafter”. Anytime thereafter…
Kwaku Antwi-Boasiako, Accra
July 1, 2020
Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer or a law student.
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