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Sangoma sick notes - Are they proof of sick leave?

by , 18 August 2015
I often get questions about whether or not you should accept a certificate from a sangoma, or traditional healer, as valid proof to give an employee sick leave. And for a while, you only had to accept it if you were in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

But now things have changed! And employers want to know...

Do we have to accept certificates from traditional healers? 
Keep reading to find out...

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Let's look at the case: Kiviets Kroon Country Estate (Pty) Ltd v Mmoledi & others [LAC] JA78/10)
The facts of the case:
Kiviets Kroon dismissed an employee for staying away from work. She had a medical certificate from a traditional healer. It said she had 'premonitions of ancestors'.
  • The CCMA and the Labour Court said the dismissal wasn't justified. They said she had a justifiable reason for not being at work.
  • Kiviets Kroon took the case on appeal to the Labour Appeal Court. It said the Constitution recognises traditional beliefs and practices. So employers should also accept these beliefs too. 
  • In this case, the employee didn't undergo 'medical treatment'. She was off for cultural, traditional belief or ancestral consultation.
The employee's case was about her cultural and traditional beliefs. She said she was in consultation with a Traditional Healer. This was to help her with training that would qualify her to be a Sangoma, because she had a calling from her ancestors.
So now what? Keep reading to find out...
***Fully updated!***
What if I told you R19 billion is how much sick leave costs SA employers every year?
Scary, isn't it?
What's even scarier is that almost 30% of that R19 billion is wasted paying for employees' 'duvet days' when they just don't 'feel' like coming into the office.
And while your company probably has strategies in place to ensure your employees don't abuse the company's sick leave policy – systems like ensuring their employee brings a medical certificate into the office if they've been absent two days or more – how can you be sure you aren't being taken for ride?
It's easy, if you know how. And now it's fully updated with the requirements of what you need to look for on a Sangoma's sick note.

This case gives clarity on cultural, traditional or ancestral matters
So, you can't refuse to accept a traditional healer's certificate when it comes to giving sick leave. Or even to justify absence from work. And here is what the President says...
On 30th April 2014 the President signed the Traditional Health Practitioners Act
This means:
  • From 1st May 2015 traditional health practitioners must register with the Council.
  • This allows traditional health practitioners' medical certificates to become proof of incapacity.
  • After registration with the Traditional Health Practitioners Council of South Africa, the traditional healer must conform to the requirements for payment of sick leave just like any other medical practitioner.

So, South Africa now recognises registered traditional healers as legal traditional health practitioners. (The Traditional Health Practitioners Act of 2007 (Act. 22 of 2007)).
What does this mean for you as the employer?
Basically, if an employee gives you a medical certificate from a traditional healer, you have to give him paid sick leave. It also means, it the certificate justifies the employee's absence from work, it's valid.
To find out exactly what the certificate must include, click here to get your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Sick Leave. We've just updated it with all you need to know!

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