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Must you accept a medical certificate issued by a traditional healer?

by , 29 August 2013
African Traditional Medicine Week is in full swing. It kicked off on Monday and will end on Saturday. The week is aimed at recognising the role of traditional medicine on the continent. The World Health Organisation estimates about 80% of Africa's population relies on traditional medicine for their basic health needs. In some cases, traditional medicine is the only healthcare service available. This means it's possible that a traditional healer could issue a medical certificate to your employee. But the big question is: Are you allowed to accept a medical certificate issued by a traditional healer?
Keep reading below to find out...

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You already know that you must request your employee to produce a valid medical certificate if he's been absent from work for more than two days in a row or more than twice in eight weeks.

But what happens when your employee produces a medical certificate issued by a traditional healer?

Do you have to acceptmedical certificates from traditional healers?

The short answer currently is 'NO!'

A medical certificate must be issued and signed by a medical practitioner or any other person certified to diagnose and treat patients. This person must be registered with a professional council established by an Act of Parliament, says the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management.

This excludes the submission of certificates from traditional healers, sangomas and witch doctors, as these people are currently NOT recognised by a medical council.(But remember while legally you don't have to accept a traditional healer medical certificate, your company can choose to accept them as part of your company's sick leave policy.)

What should a medical certificate contain?

No matter what type of medical certificate your employee brings in, it needs to contain the following information according to The Ethical and Professional Rules of the Medical and Dental Professions Board for the Health Professions Council of South Africa:

  • 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 your 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.

So be sure to check that your employee's medical certificate contains the above mentioned details.

Knowing what type of medical certificates you have to accept will ensure you don't get duped by employees who produce certificates from medical practitioners not recognised by the medical council.


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