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Operational requirements v cultural rights and sangoma’s

In the case of Kievits Kroon Country Estate (Pty) Ltd v CCMA & others[1] the proverbial can of worms was opened by the award of the commissioner. On closer scrutiny however, it is clear that the commissioner ruled on the facts before him, as commissioners should and this review of the labour court should not be seen as a blanket consent to employees to take extended and unauthorised absence from employment. On the other side, employer should respect the cultural beliefs of employees as well.

After five years’ service, the respondent employee applied for a month’s unpaid leave to attend a ritual ceremony which formed part of her training as a sangoma. On behalf of the employer it was testified that the employee approached him and stated that she was attending a traditional healer’s course. She requested to work morning shifts only to attend the course in the afternoon. As the request would affect other chefs in the kitchen, he called a meeting with all the relevant parties and asked them if they had any objection if she was allowed to work morning shifts only. They all agreed that they would not have a problem. The employee agreed that if the need arose, she would still assist during the night shifts.

Everything went smoothly until she approached him again during May and requested to be granted one month’s unpaid leave. He could not agree to her request as they were already short-staffed. It was during a very busy period. He spoke to the human resources manager and because the third respondent did not have enough leave, offered her one week unpaid leave. She did not accept one week and left on 1 June 2007 after her shift. The applicant employee absented herself from work for a month. The applicant was charged, inter alia, with absence from work without permission and insubordination, and dismissed. The applicant claimed that she had had visions for several years, and that a traditional healer had recommended that she attend the ceremony. Her manger maintained that he would act in a similar fashion if another employee was to approach him for leave to do a karate course. He denied that he is a racist and does not have respect for African traditions and customs.

During cross-examination, he said that the employee would not have been dismissed if she had submitted a medical certificate. He did not agree that attending a traditional ritual was a valid reason for being absent from duty, being ill was but not attending sangoma training. The HR manager testified that she did not qualify for leave and that it was a busy time of the year. She offered her one week but not a month. The employee declined it. Both Walter and Dreyer stated that they would not have denied her leave or dismissed her if she had produced a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner. On behalf of the employee testified the sangoma she was seeing, who explained her visions.

The respondent commissioner accepted that the employee believed that she would have died had she not attended the ceremony, and that dismissal was accordingly inappropriate because the employee’s absence was due to circumstances beyond her control. The applicant was ordered to reinstate her from the date of the award.

The arbitration award:
The traditional healer testified that the employee was very ill when she came to her for treatment. She stated further that she would have died or suffered a serious misfortune if she had ignored her ancestor’s calling. The third respondent testified that should she have ignored her ancestor’s calling and continued to work, she would have collapsed and no one would have been able to help her.

The commissioner said that employees have a fundamental duty to render service and their employers have a commensurate right to expect them to do so. A basic element of this duty is that employees are expected to be at their workplaces during working hours, unless they have an adequate reason to be absent. According to John Grogan, Dismissal, Discrimination & Unfair Labour Practices: Juta & Co Ltd (2005) at 239, an explanation for an absence would be adequate if employees could prove that the absence was beyond their control.

Another issue which appeared clearly from the evidence was that there was a lack of empathy and understanding of cultural diversity in the applicant’s workplace. The employer did not understand her calling and did not grant her leave as it did not deem her to be ill. The employer acted in the interest of the company and the letter of the sangoma was of no consequence. If she was ill, she would not have been dismissed. The issue was whether there was any justifiable reason for the third respondent to disregard the applicant’s instructions. The third respondent had to prove and convince him that her absence from duty was necessitated by circumstances beyond her control to be absolved from blame.

The commissioner equated her visions to the situation of Jona who ignored the call of God. The commissioner said that what was good for the gender must be good for the goose also. The third respondent believed that she was called by the ancestors to become a sangoma. Evidence was led that she should have died if she had continued to work and disregarded her calling. It appears to him that the third respondent had decided to follow the sangoma course to save her life. She must have genuinely believed that if she did not do so, she would die or suffer a serious misfortune. The commissioner said that the inescapable conclusion which he arrived at, was that the third respondent’s absence from duty was due to circumstances beyond her control. She was justified to disregard the applicant’s instructions and attend the sangoma course and reinstated herself.

The labour court, in the review had to decide whether he acted as a reasonable decision maker and did not make any award on the question as to whether she was justified in her absence. It merely considered the conduct of the commissioner.

The court noted that this case sadly shows what happens when cultures clash in the workplace. On the one hand we have an applicant that was concerned about making money at all costs and on the other hand an employee who had visions and had believed that her ancestors were calling her to become a sangoma. The applicant does not regard a calling to be an ancestor as an illness. The third respondent believes that if she did not heed the calling to become a sangoma, she would become ill.

The court confirmed that the ultimate question that needs to be decided is whether the third respondent’s absence from work was justifiable. It is trite that in assessing the fairness of a dismissal for absenteeism the following factors are normally considered relevant: the reason for the employee’s absence, the duration of the absence, the employee’s work record, and the employer’s treatment of this offence in the past. The onus rests on the employee to tender a reasonable explanation for his or her absence. The commissioner found that the third respondent had breached the applicant’s rule but found that she was justified to do so. The explanation tendered for her absence was to attend a sangoma course to appease her ancestors. This is not one of those cases where an employer did not know about the whereabouts of the employee. It was prepared to give her a week off as unpaid leave. The commissioner found that the explanation that she tendered was reasonable. This Court cannot second guess the commissioner’s findings.

This Court is sitting as a review court and not as an appeal court. The test in review applications is whether the decision arrived at by the commissioner is one that no other reasonable decision maker would not have arrived at. The applicant has relied on grounds of review that are no longer part of our law.

Originally posted 2013-10-13 10:05:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Become Accredited

Jeanine Topping & Associates is a consulting organisation that is passionate about empowering Training Providers and Assessors/Moderators to perform at their peak.  Our core focus is to assist Training Providers with their SETA accreditation. The Owner, Jeanine Topping has been involved in Training and Development since 2001 and recently completed a contract with the Services […]

Originally posted 2013-09-23 12:41:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

She Rep Roles and Responsibilities

Does a health and safety representative have different responsibilities from a joint health and safety committee member?

Generally speaking, a health and safety representative has the same responsibilities and powers as a joint health and safety committee member. These include:

    *identifying actual and potential workplace hazards [subsection 8(10)]
    *inspecting the workplace at least once a month [subsection 8(6)] or, if that is not practical, inspecting the workplace at least once a year and at least part of the workplace each month [subsection 8(7)] in accordance with a schedule agreed upon by the representative and the employer (constructor) [subsection 8(8)]
    *being consulted about and being present at the beginning of health and safety-related testing in the workplace [subsection 8(11)]
    *making recommendations to the employer [subsection 8(10)] about health and safety in the workplace, and
    *participating in the first and second stage investigation of work refusals [subsections 43(4) and (7)] and inspecting workplaces when there are critical injuries or fatalities [subsection 8(14)].

Originally posted 2013-10-06 10:09:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Leadership Styles – Important Leadership Styles

All leaders do not possess same attitude or same perspective. As discussed earlier, few leaders adopt the carrot approach and a few adopt the stick approach. Thus, all of the leaders do not get the things done in the same manner. Their style varies. The leadership style varies with the kind of people the leader interacts and deals with. A perfect/standard leadership style is one which assists a leader in getting the best out of the people who follow him.

Some of the important leadership styles are as follows:

Autocratic leadership style: In this style of leadership, a leader has complete command and hold over their employees/team. The team cannot put forward their views even if they are best for the team’s or organizational interests. They cannot criticize or question the leader’s way of getting things done. The leader himself gets the things done. The advantage of this style is that it leads to speedy decision-making and greater productivity under leader’s supervision. Drawbacks of this leadership style are that it leads to greater employee absenteeism and turnover. This leadership style works only when the leader is the best in performing or when the job is monotonous, unskilled and routine in nature or where the project is short-term and risky.

  • The Laissez Faire Leadership Style: Here, the leader totally trusts their employees/team to perform the job themselves. He just concentrates on the intellectual/rational aspect of his work and does not focus on the management aspect of his work. The team/employees are welcomed to share their views and provide suggestions which are best for organizational interests. This leadership style works only when the employees are skilled, loyal, experienced and intellectual.
  • Democrative/Participative leadership style: The leaders invite and encourage the team members to play an important role in decision-making process, though the ultimate decision-making power rests with the leader. The leader guides the employees on what to perform and how to perform, while the employees communicate to the leader their experience and the suggestions if any. The advantages of this leadership style are that it leads to satisfied, motivated and more skilled employees. It leads to an optimistic work environment and also encourages creativity. This leadership style has the only drawback that it is time-consuming.
  • Bureaucratic leadership: Here the leaders strictly adhere to the organizational rules and policies. Also, they make sure that the employees/team also strictly follows the rules and procedures. Promotions take place on the basis of employees’ ability to adhere to organizational rules. This leadership style gradually develops over time. This leadership style is more suitable when safe work conditions and quality are required. But this leadership style discourages creativity and does not make employees self-contented.
  • Originally posted 2013-09-21 17:18:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

    Re: Purpose of the Appeals Process

    Appeals can be brought against:

    • Assessments that are perceived to have been unfair, invalid or unreliable.
    • The assessment outcome, if the assessor’s judgement is considered to be biased.
    • Inadequate expertise or experience of the assessor, if this is considered to have influenced the assessment.
    • Unethical practices.
    • Learners should be secure in the knowledge that they can appeal against an unfair assessment.
    • Every candidate being assessed and or moderated has the right to appeal against the decisions, conduct or compliance of the assessor or moderator.
    • All candidates shall be familiarized with proper appeals procedure.

    Originally posted 2013-09-26 14:57:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter



    In order to become accredited with the SETA, an education and training provider must fulfill the following requirements:

    have a shared primary focus with the SETA;
    not be registered with another ETQA;
    be registered in terms of applicable legislation;
    have in place an acceptable quality management system (QMS);
    have the ability to develop, deliver and evaluate learning programmes which culminate in specified standards or qualifications;
    have in place financial, administrative and physical resources;
    have in place policies and practices for staff selection, appraisal and development;
    have in place policies and practices for learner entry, guidance and support.

    Originally posted 2013-09-18 16:38:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

    Leadership and Management – Relationship & Differences

    Leadership and management are the terms that are often considered synonymous. It is essential to understand that leadership is an essential part of effective management. As a crucial component of management, remarkable leadership behaviour stresses upon building an environment in which each and every employee develops and excels. Leadership is defined as the potential to influence and drive the group efforts towards the accomplishment of goals. This influence may originate from formal sources, such as that provided by acquisition of managerial position in an organization.

    A manager must have traits of a leader, i.e., he must possess leadership qualities. Leaders develop and begin strategies that build and sustain competitive advantage. Organizations require robust leadership and robust management for optimal organizational efficiency.

    Differences between Leadership and Management Leadership differs from management in a sense that:

  • While managers lay down the structure and delegates authority and responsibility, leaders provides direction by developing the organizational vision and communicating it to the employees and inspiring them to achieve it.
  • While management includes focus on planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling; leadership is mainly a part of directing function of management. Leaders focus on listening, building relationships, teamwork, inspiring, motivating and persuading the followers.
  • While a leader gets his authority from his followers, a manager gets his authority by virtue of his position in the organization.
  • While managers follow the organization’s policies and procedure, the leaders follow their own instinct.
  • Management is more of science as the managers are exact, planned, standard, logical and more of mind. Leadership, on the other hand, is an art. In an organization, if the managers are required, then leaders are a must/essential.
  • While management deals with the technical dimension in an organization or the job content; leadership deals with the people aspect in an organization.
  • While management measures/evaluates people by their name, past records, present performance; leadership sees and evaluates individuals as having potential for things that can’t be measured, i.e., it deals with future and the performance of people if their potential is fully extracted.
  • If management is reactive, leadership is proactive.
  • Management is based more on written communication, while leadership is based more on verbal communication.
  • The organizations which are over managed and under-led do not perform upto the benchmark. Leadership accompanied by management sets a new direction and makes efficient use of resources to achieve it. Both leadership and management are essential for individual as well as organizational success.

    Originally posted 2013-09-21 17:18:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

    Coordination and Cooperation

    Co-ordination is an orderly arrangement of efforts to provide unity of action in the fulfillment of common objective whereas co-operation denotes collective efforts of persons working in an enterprise voluntarily for the achievement of a particular purpose. It is the willingness of individuals to help each other.

    Co-ordination is an effort to integrate effectively energies of different groups whereas co-operation is sort to achieve general objectives of business.

    Though these two are synonymous but they are different as below:

    Differences between Co-ordination and Co-operation

    Basis Co-ordination Co-operation
    Meaning It is an orderly arrangement of group efforts in pursuit of common goals. It means mutual help willingly.
    Scope It is broader than co-operation which includes as well because it harmonizes the group efforts. It is termed as a part of co-ordination.
    Process The function of co-ordination is performed by top management. The functions of co-operation are prepared by persons at any level.
    Requirements Co-ordination is required by employees and departments at work irrespective of their work. Co-operation is emotional in nature because it depends on the willingness of people working together.
    Relationship It establishes formal and informal relationships. It establishes informal relationship.
    Freedom It is planned and entrusted by the central authority & it is essential. It depends upon the sweet will of the individuals and therefore it is not necessary.
    Support It seeks wholehearted support from various people working at various levels. Co-operation without co-ordination is fruitless & therefore it may lead to unbalanced developments.

    Therefore, existence of co-operation may prove to be effective condition or requisite for co-ordination. But it does not mean that co-ordination originates automatically from the voluntary efforts of the group of members. It has to be achieved through conscious & deliberate efforts of managers, therefore to conclude we can say that co-operation without co-ordination has no fruit and co-ordination without co-operation has no root.


    Originally posted 2013-10-05 10:36:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

    Re: How does affirmative action and skills shortage affect recruitment?


    According to the EEA, suitably qualified employees from designated groups must have equal opportunity and be equitably represented on all occupational levels. The employer achieves this by appointing suitably qualified candidates, ether from the internal or external pool of candidates. This must be achieved through affirmative action measures being applied and implemented. The question to be asked is when is a designated person suitably qualified for a position? Clearly, designated people are previously disadvantaged and therefore do not have the necessary skill, education training, qualification or experience. If these qualifications are set for all the candidates in the organisation, then the unfairness will be perpetuated as the designated groups will again fall foul due to a lack of skills, training, qualification or experience.

    For this purpose the EEA defines suitably qualified people for the purpose of affirmative action in section 20(3). It should be noted that Section 15 of Chapter 3 specifically states that affirmative action measures are measures designed to ensure that suitably qualified people have equal employment opportunities and are equitably represented in all categories and levels of the workforce. There is therefore no requirement on a designated employer to apply affirmative action measures to people who are not suitably qualified. Although, it is the prerogative of the employer to make provision for people who are not suitably qualified, by way of training, development, mentorship, counselling, etc.

    According to the EEA, a person may be suitably qualified for a job as a result of any one of, or a combination of:

    that person’s formal qualifications;

      *prior learning;
      *relevant experience; or
      *the capacity to acquire within a reasonable time the ability to do the job.

    During the recruitment process of an AA candidate, the employer must take all or some of the above factors into consideration when deciding whether a person is suitably qualified and may not unfairly discriminate against the person solely on the grounds of that candidate’s lack of experience. A lack of experience will therefore be unfair unless the employer can make out a good case as to why experience would be necessary for a specific position (core function or inherent requirement).

    Originally posted 2013-10-13 10:05:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

    What is Applied Competence?

    Applied competence means an integration of the knowledge, the skills, the attitudes and the applications that a learner is able to perform in a way that suits the learning context. It is described as the foundational (knowledge), the practical (skills) and the reflexive (application in context) competence which the learner needs in order to be judged fully competent.

    Originally posted 2013-10-08 12:48:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter