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Can sangomas write sick notes? The facts about traditional healer medical certificates

by , 30 June 2015
With the world of medicine changing and growing all the time, traditional healers have found a space in this mainstream community.

What do you do if an employee produces a medical certificate issued by a traditional healer?

In today's article, we look at whether traditional healers should fit into your sick leave policy. We also set out the characteristics you can use to deem whether a medical certificate from one is legitimate or not.


How do you decide whether or not to accept a medical certificate?

How do you decide whether or not to accept a sick note that an employee gives you? Is it at your discretion or are there actually guidelines you can use?  
Deciding on whether to make provision for traditional healers in your sick leave policy is a tricky thing. You might have strong personal views steering you in a certain direction. Clear your head, toss aside your views and let the facts help you decide.  

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Medical certificates from traditional healers are acceptable

Legally, traditional healers are recognized as traditional health practitioners under the Traditional Health Practitioners Act of 2007. If you employee farm or domestic workers, by law your employee can hand in a certificate from a traditional healer and you MUST accept it. This rule doesn't apply to other employees. In this case, you decide if a traditional healer sick note is enough. If you choose to accept it, then look for the following.

Do traditional healers meet the requirements and conditions related to medical certificates? 

To determine whether to accept the sick note or not, check if it has the following information: 
  • The name, address, qualifications of the practitioner and practice number
  • The name of the patient
  • The employment number of the patient (if applicable)
  • The date and time of the examination
  • Whether the certificate is being issued as a result of personal observations by the practitioner during an examination, or as a result of the information received from the patient that is based on acceptable medical grounds
  • A clear indication that the doctor is satisfied the employee was too sick or injured to work for the entire period of absence
  • Whether the patient is totally indisposed for duty or whether the patient is able to perform less strenuous duties in the work situation
  • The exact period of recommended sick leave
  • The date of issuing the certificate of illness
  • A clear indication of the identity of the practitioner who issued the certificate

Who can issue a medical certificate?

'The medical certificate must be issued and signed by a medical practitioner or any other person who is certified to diagnose and treat patients and who is registered with a professional council established by an Act of Parliament', this is stipulated in Section 23 of the amended Basic Conditions of Employment Act. 
If your employee is a farm or domestic worker and their sick note meets the conditions you just read, then it is legally acceptable. In all other cases, unless you choose to include traditional healers in your sick leave policy, you don't have to accept the medical certificate. Just make sure that your employees know this too. 

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