23 March 2015 by Employment Alert

Have employees who wish to use traditional healer certificates for sick leave been thrown a bone?

Employees have not been permitted to provide traditional healers' certificates as proof of incapacity after a period of absenteeism from the workplace. This is due to the lack of an established professional council as required by s23 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, No 75 of 1997 (BCEA).

On 1 May 2014 a proclamation was made giving effect to several provisions of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act, No 22 of 2007 (THPA). The most significant of these provision was s4 of the THPA which established the Interim Traditional Health Practitioners Council of South Africa (Council).

The BCEA provides under s23 that for an employee to be paid out for sick leave a medical certificate must be furnished by an employee to account for their absence from the workplace due to sickness or injury. Furthermore, s23(2) requires that a medical certificate furnished as proof of incapacity must be produced and signed by a medical practitioner who is registered with a professional council recognised by an Act of Parliament.

Prior to the proclamation of the THPA, employers were able to reject proof of incapacity certificates from traditional healers as traditional healers lacked a recognised professional council as required by s23(2). Essentially this meant that any certificates provided by employees from traditional healers were noncompliant with the provisions of the BCEA.

The President's proclamation effectively made way for the establishment of the council which the traditional healers previously lacked. Thus an impression was created that traditional healers would now be able to issue their patients with sick notes in accordance with s23 of the BCEA.

Despite the council's long awaited establishment, employers and employees should be wary of arriving at an incorrect conclusion. Section 47 of the THPA envisages a number of regulations which are required to be promulgated by the Minister of Health after consultation with the council in order to create a regulatory framework necessary to oversee the practices of traditional healers such as their qualifications, registrations, age and conduct.

In short, until such a time as the Minister of Health has promulgated the relevant regulations in order to bring traditional healer certificates in line with the requirements of the BCEA, employers are not obliged to accept a medical certificate from their employees that has been issued by a traditional healer.

download PDF

The information and material published on this website is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

We make every effort to ensure that the content is updated regularly and to offer the most current and accurate information. Please consult one of our lawyers on any specific legal problem or matter.

We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage, whether direct or consequential, which may arise from reliance on the information contained in these pages.

Please refer to the full terms and conditions on the website.

Copyright © 2020 Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. All rights reserved. For permission to reproduce an article or publication, please contact us cliffedekkerhofmeyr@cdhlegal.com

You may also be interested in