Should you accept Jane's medical certificate from a traditional healer?

Tracey Ndlovu, Practical Guide To Human Resources Management, 05 May. 2015

Tags: medical certificate, medical certificate from a traditional healer, medical certificate from a traditional healer

Its Winter season. Jane's been booked off sick for five days because of flu.

She returns to work on Monday and hands in her medical certificate from a traditional healer. She explains to you that she didn't have enough money to see a medical doctor, so she went to a traditional healer who booked her off for the week.

Do you accept the certificate from a traditional healer?

Keep reading below and I'll tell you what the BCEA says about this...

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Are certificates produced by traditional healers valid?

The BCEA states a medical certificate must be issued and signed by a medical practitioner who's registered with a professional council established by an Act of Parliament. At the moment, traditional healers are NOT registered with a professional council. This means you don't have to accept certificates from traditional healers unless you're bound by a collective agreement to accept such certificates.

But note, traditional health practitioners in KwaZulu-Natal allows for the licensing of traditional healers. This is in terms of the KwaZulu Act on the Code of Zulu Law 16 of 1985.

Medical certificates that are valid must be issued by anyone of the following professionals:
  • Medical practitioner (Doctor with MBChB degree) that is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.
  • Dentist that is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.
  • Psychologist with a Masters Degree in Research, Counselling or Clinical Psychology that is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.
So in Jane's case, you can reject the medical certificate if the traditional healer doesn't fall under the KwaZulu Act on the Code of Zulu Law. You can charge her with unauthorised absence from work. And you don't have to pay her for those days.

Use this checklist to see what should be included on a valid medical certificate:
  • Doctor's name, address and qualifications;
  • Patient's (employee's) name;
  • Employee number (if applicable – especially where you sent your employee to the doctor);
  • Date and time the patient was examined;
  • Whether the certificate is given based on the doctor's personal observations or just according to the patient's say-so (which could still be based on suitable medical grounds);
  • Description of the illness in simple words, with the patient's informed consent. If the patient doesn't agree, then the doctor must simply say it's his opinion the patient isn't fit for work (bear in mind that some ailments can be embarrassing);
  • How long the patient is booked off for;
  • If the patient is completely or only partially unable to do his duties;
  • The date the sick note was given;
  • A clear indication of the doctor who issued the note. He must personally sign or initial the original and print his name next to it in capital letters;
  • The doctor must delete words on pre-printed stationery that don't apply to the patient; and
  • The doctor must give the patient a short factual report if he asks for one.

To read more on managing sick leave, turn to chapter L01: Leave: Sick leave in your Practical Guide to Human Resources Management Loose Leaf. Don't have a copy yet? Click here now


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