Why we braai on Heritage Day 

Why we braai on Heritage Day

The legendary King Shaka was renowned for the prominent role he played in uniting the various Zulu clans into a cohesive nation. Consequently, Shaka Day was observed each year in KwaZulu-Natal on 24 September, the presumed date of the king’s death in 1828.

During the 1990s, just before the dawn of democracy, the then government of national unity chose not to include Shaka Day in the proposed Public Holidays Bill. The Inkatha Freedom Party objected strongly to this decision and refused to sign the Bill.

As a compromise, it was eventually decided to include the holiday but rename it Heritage Day to promote unity among South Africa’s diverse cultural heritage.

Fast forward to 2005 and celebrity chef Jan Scannell (aka Jan Braai) began campaigning to rebrand the holiday as Braai Day as a means of nurturing a common national pastime which is shared across all South African races and cultures. “The ingredients may differ, but one thing that never changes is that when South Africans have something to celebrate, we light fires and prepare great feasts,” he reasoned.

Two years later Archbishop Desmond Tutu was appointed patron of Braai Day. “We’re going to have this wonderful thing on the 24th of this month,” he was quoted as saying, “when we all gather round one fire. It’s a fantastic thing, a very simple idea.

“Irrespective of your politics, of your culture, of your race, of your whatever, hierdie ding doen ons saam… just South Africans doing one thing together, and recognising that we are a fantastic nation.”

So whether you prefer to call it chisa nyama, ukosa, barbeque (anyone?), or just a braai, Heritage Day has been set aside for you to unite with fellow South Africans around a fire and wave a flag to celebrate the rich and varied cultural heritage of our magnificent and beautiful country.

CRS advocates SCARF

CRS advocates SCARF model to employee engagement

CRS Technologies supports the SCARF model to employee engagement as an effective means to boost productivity, agility and operations within a digital business.

Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HR business unit, explains that within the context of employee engagement and the role of staff in business, each SCARF model element can increase or reduce engagement in an interaction.

SCARF stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness,” he explains. “It is significant because it speaks to people development and the internal and external resources employees rely on to develop and work to their full potential.

Status looks at the relative importance of people or how individuals perceive their own worth in relation to other people.

Certainty is about reducing ambiguity. The brain seeks certainty in order to make predictions; it is normal to want to know what will happen.

Autonomy is about the ability to rely on oneself and the perception of having control over an environment.

Relatedness is about connection and a sense of belonging, while fairness is the perception of being treated fairly.

Why is SCARF significant to a digital business?

“Not only does it help decision-makers develop an effective, sustainable employee management strategy, but it also helps employers enforce the strategy and measure the results,” says Myburgh.

“Consider the influence of trends like gamification, based on the application of game design elements in non-game contexts. The SCARF model for employee engagement takes this to a new practical level for businesses and people development.”

To illustrate, gamification brings in point systems and leader boards (status), a clear roadmap and real-time feedback (certainty), control of progress and direction (autonomy), multiplayer environments and teams (relatedness), and unbiased and unfiltered feedback (fairness).

“There is a lot we can learn from trends like gamification in business and how technology can transform systems to develop people,” says Myburgh. “We know an engaged employee is fully in tune with company objectives and operations, and how best to use resources to achieve these objectives. That is what drives a passionate, dedicated member of staff, and what differentiates companies in highly competitive industries in the new economy today.”

By applying the SCARF model with approaches like gamification and other tech-driven business development methodologies, decision-makers can attract, retain and maximise the investment in people.

Faking your qualifications is now a criminal offence

Faking your qualifications is now a criminal offence

Falsifying credentials is a great deal more serious than some may believe. It’s not just about mischievously deceiving a potential employer, playing a role to achieve an end, or simply a clever form of con-artistry – actually this scourge on South Africa’s already-pressurised economy is costing the country dearly, and now those found guilty of faking qualifications can be prosecuted.

Although not new, the problem seems to be on the rise and experts agree that as the economy struggles and unemployment levels increase, job prospects become scarcer and people go to extreme measures to get a foot in the door.

In 2017 the then Presidency Minister Jeff Radebe was quoted by Independent Online as saying: “As at the end of January 2017, a total of 1 276 qualifications (444 national and 832 foreign qualifications) were recorded on SAQA’s (South African Qualifications Authority) list of misrepresented qualifications, with 78 affidavits completed for handover to the Hawks for prosecution.”

Falsified CVs and other reference material

We don’t have an exact measurement of where those figures stand now, but suffice to say more and more businesses complain of misrepresentation, falsified CVs and other reference material as part of the recruitment process.

In a market in which skills remain in short supply, sourcing the right skill is only half the task completed. Today, employers have to go above and beyond to ensure who they are recruiting is who they say they are, from their personal backgrounds right through to their qualifications and career experience.

There is a lot riding on the National Qualifications Amendment Bill, recently signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

According to SAQA, “The NQF Amendment Bill aims to protect the integrity of the South African education and training system by giving SAQA the legal responsibility to verify qualifications and part-qualifications (an assessed unit of learning that is registered as part of a qualification.)”

Misrepresenting your qualifications could lead to a harsh fine, or up to five years in prison

This means that South Africans who are found guilty of misrepresenting their qualifications could face a harsh fine, up to five years in prison, or both.

This is not limited to a CV, but could also include making the claim on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

Anyone, not just employers, can report people making false claims to SAQA, which will publish a national name and shame list of fraudulent credentials.

Government’s NHI plan – like it or not, there are implications

The new Government NHI plan – if you like it or not, there are implications

It is fair to say that South Africa’s National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill 2019, introduced to the National Assembly on 8 August, is a contentious issue and remains a talking point for both employees and employers.

As CRS Technologies, our first point of departure (and advice to all business leaders and employees) is to equip ourselves with as much knowledge as possible. As the saying goes, ‘forewarned is forearmed’, and it is always best to have a firm grasp of would-be legislation in order to best prepare, avoid problems and secure any advantage.

The first question to ask is: ‘Why has the government introduced the Bill?’ Well, it aims to achieve several objectives,  but the main ones to focus on for now are universal access to quality healthcare services as per Section 27 of the Constitution, and the establishment of a National Health Insurance Fund that will be managed to purchase healthcare services on behalf of users.

The Bill has drawn criticism from some circles

That is a synopsis of a broader set of objectives, but the government is positioning the Bill as a means to assist medical scheme members with their high out-of-pocket costs.

The official position is that the government acknowledges that state medical staff and hospitals cannot cope with treating the majority of South Africans who do not have a medical aid.

It is also fair to suggest that the Bill has drawn criticism from some circles, specifically from those who are concerned over the affordability of the NHI and the capacity to manage this fund.

There are, of course, implications for both the employer and employee.

Every South African citizen will become a member of the NHI Fund and citizens who earn an income will contribute towards the NHI Fund. The contribution percentage that could be levied on an employee and its employer has not yet been determined.

Levy an extra tax on taxpayers’ personal income

Government will levy an extra tax on taxpayers’ personal income and use the money it will save by not giving taxpayers tax credits for being a member of a medical scheme.

Government will use South African citizens’ tax money, as well as some of its healthcare budget, to buy services from public and private doctors, specialists and hospitals that are accredited with the state.

The fund will cover a range of medical services, treatments and procedures for free, except if it is not a medical necessity, and on an annual basis, government will determine what prices will be paid for by specific services.

It is very important to note that citizens might be expected to register with a GP who is contracted with the state. Each contracted GP might have a set number of patients who they will service for the NHI Fund.

Medical schemes may disappear and foreigners won’t be covered

There will be strict rules about seeing specialists: people won’t be able to go directly to a specialist, but will have to obtain a referral first.

The state will buy medicines for everyone, medical schemes may disappear and foreigners won’t be covered. Foreigners visiting South Africa must have travel insurance to receive health care services through the NHI Fund.

The fund will be managed by a CEO, who will be appointed by the Minister of Health.

All these aspects could have serious and long-term implications for the general welfare of South African households and, by default, the country’s workforce. No tax credits for medical aid payments will impact on the purse-strings, and one can only but express concern over rising unemployment (at 29%) and a pressurised economy.

At the very least it is best to understand this possible legislation and how it could affect your operation and your employees.

As always, we invite you to contact our legislation team at info@crs.co.za if you require any additional information.

National Women’s Day has nothing to do with honouring women simply because they are female. Rather, it is about celebrating the bravery of 20 000 South African women who challenged the stereotype that they are politically incompetent and immature citizens who belong in the kitchen.

In 1956, when the then apartheid government proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act that aimed to tighten the pass laws which limited the movement of black women in urban areas, the Federation of South African Women decided it had had enough. The decision was made to go to Pretoria and protest against the oppressive legislation.

On 9 August thousands of women from all over South Africa, some as far afield as Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, arrived in Pretoria. All processions in the city had been banned on that day, so the women walked in twos and threes toward the Union Buildings, some carrying babies on their backs. As a multiracial group they made a colourful spectacle, dressed in green and black blouses, brilliant saris and ochre robes.

The women walked in a determined, yet orderly manner. Their leaders, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophie Williams and Lilian Ngoyi carried bundles of petitions containing more than 100 000 signatures supporting their issue. They intended to hand these over the to the prime minister, JG Strijdom.

When they arrived at his office, neither the prime minister nor his senior staff were there to meet them.

The women placed the signed petitions outside Strijdom’s office door. At Lilian Ngoyi’s suggestion, they stood in complete silence for a full half hour. The petitions were eventually accepted by Strijdom’s secretary.

The women then sang a protest song that had been composed especially for the occasion. Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo, which means “you strike a woman you strike a rock”, has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa.

In 1995, soon after South Africa’s change to democracy, 9 August was declared a national holiday as a tribute to the many women who risked arrest, detention and banning for a free South Africa.

Addressing global payroll management

Addressing global payroll management is a complex undertaking

Managing payroll is a complex undertaking, driven by a country’s regulatory environment. When it comes to doing this on a global scale, however, the business must address the myriad of tax regulations in all the jurisdictions in which it operates, says Ian McAlister, General Manager at CRS Technologies.

“While expanding operations into new territories brings compelling advantages to the company, it is important to be cognisant of local nuances such as language, culture and legislative requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to payroll management around the world. What works (and is expected) in one country might not even be relevant in another.”

Payroll is a vital business function

While using the cloud as a vehicle to help manage this from a central location has addressed some of these challenges, it is not the silver bullet that many make it out to be. Rather, it is just one component of a much more complicated environment that is continually evolving.

Payroll is a vital business function. The advantage of migrating this to the cloud is the efficiency that comes with having sight of an organisation’s global payroll in a centralised location. This ensures that there are fewer administrative tasks to be concerned about and allows more time to focus on delivering strategic value across the organisation’s footprint.”

Yet for all the attention placed on outsourcing payroll solutions, offering self-service employee platforms, and even recruiting more digitally savvy payroll managers, McAlister says it is vitally important to have the fundamentals in place.

“In fact, many payroll managers cite keeping on top of legislation in multiple tax jurisdictions as their biggest challenge. A global survey found that 41% of respondents consider this the most important obstacle to overcome, followed by managing multiple deadlines, processes, contracts and reporting.”

Global payroll delivers significant business value

Despite this, managing a global payroll delivers significant business value. This includes having access to more relevant information on the state of operations in every territory, resulting in a cohesive view of the health of the organisation. It also enables decision-makers to identify problem areas much quicker than in the past and allocate resources accordingly.

“As this results in an improved, collaborative environment, a global payroll approach must keep three critical components in mind – technology, compliance and change management. Technology revolves around assessing what is currently being used and how best to adopt other solutions. Secondly, it goes without saying that compliance must be adhered to, irrespective of the location, so the solution must be able to offer the flexibility required to do this. Finally, getting employees to use the solution and all the relevant features will be integral to its success,” says McAlister.

This is where using technology in conjunction with a people-centric approach becomes important.

“Too often, businesses simply throw technology at the problem, but using cloud-based solutions are merely one piece of the puzzle. There is still a need to have people on the ground with the necessary skills to unlock the potential created by the technology. The one cannot happen without the other,” McAlister concludes.

New parental leave law

What the new parental leave law means for your business

It is common knowledge that South African businesses have had to endure uncertainty over new legislation governing leave, particularly when it comes to planning for its impact on the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) system.

The Labour Laws Amendment Bill was signed into law in November 2018. It lays the foundation for parental leave, adoption leave and commissioning parental leave for specific employees.

The issue of work-life balance comes into play and one could argue that labour authorities are reconsidering the rights of the worker, particularly in so far as raising a family is concerned, and how this is balanced against the interests of a business.

A parent is entitled to at least ten consecutive days of parental leave

In practise, any employee who is a parent is entitled to at least ten consecutive days of parental leave, and any employee who is an adoptive parent of a child younger than two is eligible for adoption leave of at least ten consecutive weeks, or ten consecutive days of parental leave.

Why is this significant? For business operations, it is important to note that the government has decided to roll out the new leave laws in phases to ensure seamless integration with the UIF.

Configured to accommodate benefits of the new legislation

Businesstech online has quoted the Department of Labour as saying the system had to be reconfigured to facilitate the benefits of the new law and the scheduled dates for system readiness are:

Parental benefits – 31 July 2019
Adoption benefits – 11 October 2019
Commissioning parental benefits – 20 December 2019

Once the system is ready and configured to accommodate benefits of the new legislation, this can be affected across businesses.

We are entering a new chapter in the development and management of SA’s workforce… a positive step in terms of growth and sustainability.

Why Outsource your HR?

The business case for outsourcing the HR function is straightforward – it provides any-sized business with a dependable resource that can be used to effectively manage HR with less cost, less risk and less pressure on resources, if you have the right partner on board.

We do not simply endorse this business model because it is our speciality; there are practical business reasons for companies to take this route – and research backs this up.

For example, according to the ADP Research Institute the most compelling reasons for companies to consider outsourcing their HR function include: stabilise costs, lower risk, increase employee productivity and drive business results.

It is important to place these reasons in context. As we are all aware, South Africa’s economy is not growing as fast as it should be. At the time of writing this piece, the country’s GDP is forecasted to grow by just 1.5% for 2019.

Times are tough for businesses across the board and especially for SMEs, which are acknowledged to be one of the most active and sizeable contributors to the country’s economy.

SMEs, particularly, are under heavy pressure to operate with limited resources – especially spare capital and skills availability.

New developments effecting HR and technology

There really isn’t a great deal available to mobilise a team of HR experts and utilise their skills at any given time to deal with issues like tax, regulatory changes, new developments effecting HR and technology.

Lower risk is actually a lot more strategic than some would imagine. Smaller operations must do all they can to compete, sustain themselves and be agile – there is little room for mistakes, and most importantly the market is not forgiving when it comes to messing up on HR.

It really is all about choice… empowering the decision maker with a powerful alternative. They can outsource all the HR functions, or just some of them to a partner.

As experts have written, the model is described as “a kind of partnership” where the outsourcing provider acts as a “a co-employer of your staff members”.

Outsourcing the HR function

Outsourcing the HR function to an experienced, credible and established service provider will give decision makers peace of mind and time to focus on the business, and on strategy. They don’t have to worry about whether or not the company is complying with legislation, whether employees are effectively onboarded, or if the latest tax information and compliance has been considered and factored into the operation.

Once again ADP Research Institute has listed several key advantages linked to outsourcing some administration functions.

For example, it alleviates the administrative burden on internal staff, enables more cost-effective administration, and enhances integration across multiple benefits areas.

The question of whether or not to outsource something as important as HR is really not applicable anymore. The model works and continues to gain popularity within ever-increasingly competitive and resource-intensive markets. Today, it is really not about whether or not to outsource, but more when and to whom?

The gender pay gap – inequality continues to impact human resources
Gender pay gap inequality still impacts human resources (HR)

Human resource and human capital management experts agree – the fact that women are generally paid less than men in the workplace has a detrimental effect on society.  As one academic put it – “unfair pay practices perpetuate societal inequalities and keep families in poverty”.

As an industry representative organisation run by, and for HR and HCM professionals, CRS Technologies has a vested interest in monitoring the maturity and overall development of HR.

In South Africa equality is enshrined into the country’s constitution and this includes the workplace.

Any bias or inequality, however applied, and based on race, ethnicity, culture, creed, religion or gender, is outlawed. And so, we have to face facts… there is a shared responsibility between the employer and the employee to ensure equality and to enforce the law where inequality exists or is perpetuated.

Remuneration is a very topical issue at the moment, given the lack of representation of women professionals in key sectors such as IT.

Several key themes form the basis for the global gender pay gap

Academics and industry insiders have identified several key themes that form the basis for the global gender pay gap.

According to the SA Board for People Practices, these themes include skills development, careers, modes of work, job changes and pay, wage negotiations and collective bargaining.

The argument made by those protecting the rights of women in the workplace is that skill sets often stereotypically associated with women, including caring and organising, are generally not paid well.

The important point raised by HR practitioners is that it is important to check our personal feelings and bias ‘at the door’ and realise that these could easily become part of the workplace processes and procedures.

There is also the issue of wage negotiations and the role of unions and industry representatives. The argument is that in many instances it is males who are chief negotiators or representatives, which means that they don’t necessarily always have women’s rights and best interests at heart.

Skills availability will remain a challenge to industry and there is some merit in the debate that skills diversity, equality, application and relevance should begin at school level – even primary school level.

The days of some skills sets being only accessible and relevant to one gender over another are over… today, multi-skills, soft skills and professional certification remain in high demand.

Eradicate unfair treatment

We have to bear in mind that HR and employment legislation, including the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, has been put in place to eradicate unfair treatment and that covers remuneration.

The fundamental, especially when it comes to HR and HCM, is that women have as much right as their male counterparts to have their skills recognised, to be remunerated fairly for their skills, their experience, market knowledge and their value to a business as an asset.

That is the premise for what we all strive for – a workplace that enforces and protects equal opportunity, and gender equality.

Access to a tax advisory service during tax season adds value
Access to a tax advisory service adds value in a substantial manner during the annual tax season.

We all know the drill by now… around this time of the year, tax season, businesses have to ensure compliance with SARS legislation governing the submission of returns.

We also all realise that we are operating in a vastly different economic environment, in which many businesses are struggling with cash flow and unable to pay outstanding tax debt to SARS.

It is not surprising that many business owners choose to take the wrong route as a short-term solution and actually avoid submitting their returns.

Our partner and tax business continuity specialist Tax Debt Compliance is pretty clear when it comes to its advice on this issue: not only is it illegal, but not submitting a return will incur severe penalties and high interest charges for your business.

So what are operators to do? It is a bit of a catch-22 situation – not submitting may ease the pressure on cash flow (albeit temporarily), but it is not a true reflection of the state of the business and will end up costing more – however, submitting may be a stretch too far!

That is why we have partnered with Tax Debt Compliance to provide a tax advisory service.

How does this service help?

Well, it comprises a range of tax relief mechanisms:

  • Negotiation of affordable instalment agreements with SARS on behalf of your business;
  • Compromise applications to SARS which, if approved, will enable your business to settle tax debt at a reduced amount;
  • Tax due diligences to ensure compliance with South African tax legislation;
  • Formulation of tax opinions for businesses considering entering into complex transactions that could hold significant tax consequences.

These are the immediate benefits to clients looking for some kind of intervention and assistance with tax.

Not only does this mean you are actually being proactive in dealing with the challenges, you are also being realistic in terms of where the business is positioned and have a credible way of influencing the outcome.

Our tax advisory service is there to be used and to help… contact us now for more information!