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Annual Leave And The Applicable Law In Uganda.

Annual leave and the applicable law in Uganda.

The Employment Act of Uganda envisions the need for employees to take time off from work to rest in a bid to improve the work-life balance.

The law stipulates the different types of leave which include annual leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, sick leave, and weekly rest among others. The law further provides for the minimum amount of leave that an employee should be entitled to in different circumstances.

Nevertheless, there is no specified limit on the exact days on which leave should be taken by an employee which implies that leave planning is often reliant on the agreement between an employer and employee.

This article mainly focuses on the different types of leave that an employee is entitled to under the law and also give an insight into how best employers can plan for leave without affecting the effectiveness and productivity of their business enterprises as elaborated hereunder;

  1. Annual Leave

In a calendar year, an employee is required to work for an employer for not more than six consecutive days with a day’s rest, taken on any day that is customary or agreed between the parties. The maximum number of hours per week is 48. During annual leave, an employee will still be entitled to his or her wages as well as all other benefits accruing under the law and contract of employment. The employee is under an obligation to apply for leave and he or she can either take the leave or accept payment in lieu of leave.

Where an employee fails to exercise his or her right to apply for leave in the course of a year, the assumption is that the employee has forfeited his or her right to such leave and therefore cannot claim for it unless the contrary is provided for in the contract of employment.

  1. Length of Working Hours

The maximum working hours for employees shall be forty-eight hours per week but an employee may agree to work for more than this period of time. However, the working hours in a week shall not exceed ten hours per day or fifty-six hours a week unless an employee works in shifts.

  1. Weekly Rest

Employees shall not be required to work for an employer for more than six consecutive days without a day’s rest. Weekly rest could be taken on a normal rest day or the employer and employee may agree on any other day of the week when the employee will rest.

  1. Public Holidays

Employees have a right to a day off from work with full pay on public holidays and if the employee works on a public holiday, he or she will be entitled to a day off with full pay on another day that would otherwise be a working day.

  1. Maternity Leave

A female employee that gets pregnant is entitled to sixty working days leave from work of which at least four weeks shall follow the childbirth or miscarriage. During maternity leave, the employer is expected to pay the employee her full wages and other benefits accruing from the contract of employment.

The employee has a right to return to the job that she held immediately before her maternity leave or be allocated to a suitable alternative job provided that the terms and conditions of the new job are not less favorable.

  1. Paternity Leave

A male employee is entitled a right to four working days’ leave from work immediately after his wife has delivered a child or suffered a miscarriage. The employee is entitled to his full wages during paternity leave and has a right to return to the job that he held before he went for the said leave.

  1. Sick Leave

An employee who falls sick and is incapable of work has a right to his or her full salary and all benefits accruing under the contract of employment for the first month of his or her sickness. However, if the sickness persists rendering the employee unable to work, the employer can terminate the contract of employment at the end of the second month.


Employers are advised to encourage employees to apply for leave as early as possible. This helps the employer to ensure business continuity and also assign someone to perform the roles of an employee who has taken leave.

The law forbids an employer from dismissing an employee for taking or proposing to take leave which he or she is entitled to under the law or contract of employment. Leave is statutory and binding on the employers, therefore, planning is key in ensuring that the business continues to run effectively even when some employees are off on leave.


By: Ssanyu Joanita
        HR Consultant

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