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.
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