Friday, February 17, 2017

HR - What to do When . . . Staff are Negligent in the Performance of Their Duties


By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC

Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice requirements.

According to the law, the charge of negligence is a dismissable offence!

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s examine what can and often does happen.

Let’s go back to our protagonists – Mike (the employer) and George (the employee) and see what they are up to this week.

Mike owns a retail type store that sells anything and everything and George is the security guard.  One of George’s main functions is to physically search employees as they leave the premises, to ensure that half the store stock doesn’t leave with them.

Mike is a pretty thorough type of a guy and he has all of his procedures and controls in place.  One of the procedures is that it is incumbent upon the Security guard to search each and every employee that leaves the premises, without exception.  The procedures have all been circulated and all the staff have signed off indicating that they have familiarized themselves with the procedures.  Furthermore, Mike has gone through the procedures with George to ensure that he understands exactly what it is that he must do.  George has been with the company for 14 years now and it is therefore highly unlikely that he has not had the benefit of training for the position.  George is equipped with a metal detector that must be used when conducting a search to ensure that metal objects have not been fraudulently removed from the store.

In view of the value of some of the higher priced goods in the store, Mike has had a whole surveillance application installed and he is able to video all the staff as they leave and therefore he is able to monitor George to ensure that the search is in fact carried out on all the staff and also to ensure that the correct search procedures are utilized.

In accordance with laid down procedures, George has signed the procedure manual, in particular the procedures that pertain to the searching of staff members as they leave the premises, thereby acknowledging that they had been read and explained to him and that he understood what it was that had to be done.

The employees are individually searched in a private cubicle, with close personal inspection, plus a metal detector scan.

Mike noticed that the turnover in the store was steadily declining and that the losses were creeping upwards all the time. He investigated and attempted to resolve the situation by increasing his preventative measures.  One of the areas that he looked closely at was the staff exit procedures.

What he discovered was not good news.  He found that out of 24 employees that left, George had only conducted a properly compliant search on 1 of these. There were eight instances where the staff members were not searched at all.  That meant that there were 15 staff members who were not properly searched.  Not only were the staff not searched or not correctly searched, the video also showed that George allowed the staff to sign the register thereby confirming that they had been search, when of course they hadn’t!

Clearly a disciplinary had to take place.

Next time we will continue with what happens.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Thursday, February 16, 2017

VAT 101 - VAT on Fuel

VAT 101 - VAT on Fuel

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting August  2009.

We all know (well I hope we do) that we cannot claim VAT on the fuel that we use.

So how do we handle VAT and fuel levies? How do we claim back all that we can without falling foul of the law?

Let’s call in the protagonists.

Mike owns a transport company that collects fresh produce from all over the country and delivers it to the various branches of his clients, again all over the country.

With the various increases in fuel that we as South Africans have experienced over the last two years and Mike has been forced to introduce a fuel levy to his delivery charges on all of his deliveries.  Mike being an honorable man ensures that if the fuel price decreases, so do his levies, so the levy therefore fluctuates from month to month.

According to the law, Mike meets the minimum requirements and he is a registered VAT vendor.  Mike has to charge VAT.

The ‘fuel levy’ is not zero-rated.  It is a charge that Mike levies in respect of the service that he supplies and it is therefore not exempt.

You see Mike is not supplying fuel to his clients, he is supplying a service – the fuel levy now becomes a part of the services that Mike provides, much the same as the cost of maintenance of the vehicles is factored into Mike’s costs and therefore Mike is quite entitled to charge VAT on the fuel levy.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Networking 101 - The Importance of Attitude

Networking 101 – The Importance of Attitude

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting.

I promised to continue this section with your approach and attitude to Networking.

Most people seem to approach a Networking meeting with the “Let’s see what’s in it for me” glint in their eyes.  Let’s face it folks, as Trevor Nel of Inner Circle always says “We all come to these meetings to sell, not to buy”.  So what would make your service, your widget or your IP so much greater than the next person?  Why would everyone in the room, suddenly stop wanting to sell their wares and in a unique 180 degree turn, all want to buy something from you – well the obvious answer is nothing!

So, you’re pretty much not going to achieve anything if you expect to be selling 50 deals on the night (day or whenever) of the meeting.  Clearly your mindset needs to change.

Why not try going into the meeting with the idea that a) you are going to meet a whole new bunch of people (who also know a whole new bunch of people) and in doing so, you will strengthen and add to your data base or b) you are going to meet a whole new bunch of people who you can leverage off and perhaps form Strategic Alliances or Joint Ventures with or c) now here’s a unique thought – how about you are going to meet a whole new bunch of people who you can actually assist by pointing them in the right direction and thereby being a huge “Value Add” in their businesses.

Either way, you will have scored big time and will also have had value added to your network, your database and your business.

Networking for me, is about giving assistance and being of help to someone else, believe me – the more help you give the more business you will write. That’s not to say that you become a “mother Theresa” type of figure – you still have to make money to put food on the table, but at this point, money should not be your primary objective.

So the next time you go to a Networking event, make sure that your mindset is right, it will open up a whole new avenue to you and help with building new relationships, which in turn will bring you an abundance of new business.

I will continue this saga next time, with some more tips on Networking.

Nikki Viljoen is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist and she can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

BUSINESS TIPS – 8 Tips on Stuff you Should know Before you Start a Business – Part 3.

BUSINESS TIPS – 8 Tips on Stuff you Should know Before you Start a Business – Part 3.

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

So far we have looked at how vital it is to get clarity, to put a Business Plan into place, doing the research and avoiding discounts.  Today we will be looking at a few more issues.

Hiring Friends
If ever there is a quagmire in business, this has surely got to be one of the biggest!

The reason for this is that generally speaking emotions get in the way and when things should be debated or problems discussed, we tend to try and steer clear of the confrontation so as not to upset the friend and in doing so, we put the friendship under another type of strain.

The reality of course is that the friendship/relationship should not be brought into the office and any issues concerning work or office, should be dealt with as you would deal with any other employee.

Human nature being what it is however, means that that seldom happens and unacceptable situations are allowed to continue until somebody snaps and irreparable damage is done to both the working relationship and the friendship.

If you are one of those people who find it difficult to separate the two relationships (and please understand that this would put you in the majority of individuals out there) then it would be in your own best interest not to hire someone that you consider a friend.

Similarly and equally as dangerous is developing ‘friendships’ at work.  What usually happens then is the same type of scenario as hiring friends and/or equally as serious, holding onto staff (who are now friends) who want to leave for whatever reason, but you don’t want to let them go.

Both situations are not sustainable and will more often than not, not be a good fit and when things go south and really aren’t working out well between employees and employers who are friends (or even family), then emotions need to be put aside and good business sense needs to be exercised and the employee needs to find work elsewhere.

Leave the Past in the Past, where it belongs!
Sounds like a title for a song doesn’t it!

Don’t get me wrong for one moment -  having previous experience is a great benefit and it certainly will serve you well in a new venture.  However, that said, especially if your previous business failed or did not take off as planned, don’t bring your fears and uncertainties and expectations in with your new ideas – leave those behind.

Previous competition, crazy customer needs and service challenges and the expectations that went with those, should also be left behind.  Learn the lesson that they taught you and move on.

This is a new business and it needs to be given the respect and dignity that it deserves.  So start afresh with brand new players for customers and new suppliers alike.

Remember that your business plan is a living, breathing document and you need to keep changing it and tweaking it as the market place changes and moves with the times.

Remember to keep up with the ever changing market place too.  Technology moves very fast and often as a product hits the shelves it is already “old”!  Make sure that you keep abreast with what is taking place in your industry in order for you to be a leader who reaps the rewards rather than a follower who fights with snaps and snarls for the scraps left behind.

Next time we will look at a few more of these points that should be taken into consideration before you even start.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Monday, February 13, 2017

Motivation - Powerful Words - part 2

MOTIVATION –  Powerful Words – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Here we are at week two on this particular series – powerful words and how they motivate us.  Today we will be looking at a few more and what they can mean in our lives.

This word really resonates with me – you see I often feel completely overwhelmed.  Being the person that I am, I often have more than one project on the go.  Some are short term, some are medium term and some are really long term.  At the moment I am dealing with several really long term projects (the one we estimate will take around 15 years to complete) and there are two which will be on going.  These three projects in particular are taking up a huge amount of time now and are not bringing any revenue in, at this moment in time.  The result of course is that I find myself really stretched, physically, mentally, emotionally and also financially.  On a logical level of course, I know that the long term projects will bring in huge amounts of money at some point down the line (and yes I know exactly what that point is because that is how it has been planned), but that doesn’t help me with putting food on the table right now.  The reality is that I have to have several short term or ‘instant money’ projects on the go to bring the money in on a monthly basis, and somehow I have to find the time and energy to balance the two.

We all know and understand that finding balance in anything is quite difficult and it is usually when I am hugely ‘out of balance’ that I start to panic and feel completely overwhelmed and out of my depth.  The pressure feels as though it is pinning me down and I have to struggle to get out of its clutches.  During moments like this I understand that I am in dire need of what I call my ‘dream time’. It is the ‘me’ time that I take to just be.  To be quiet in myself and in my space.  It is the time that I take to think things over and dream of all the possibilities.  It is the time that I take to reconnect to my soul, to the child and the adolescent within me.  It is the time that I take to reconnect with my purpose in life, when I remember why it is that I started this journey, where I want it to take me and what I want to achieve.  Taking ‘dream time’ gives me the opportunity to ‘remember’ my purpose and my purpose is the reason that I am on the planet.  Forgetting or distancing ourselves from our life’s purpose can have some pretty drastic consequences, so always remember to reconnect, to take some time out and remember.

I seem to be on a mission with myself today.  The reason that I am saying this, with a huge big grin on my face is simply this – I often write about the things that I most need to hear and both of these words, today are very definitely what I need to hear about right now.  I spend about 90% of my time motivating people.  Whether it is through my blogs and the various articles that I write for newspapers and magazines or whether it is when I am giving a talk or even when I am assessing a client’s business, I am motivating them.  Whether it is to do things differently in order to get a better result or even when I am rescuing them from something that has happened as a direct result of some bad decisions – I am motivating them.  “Well that’s not a bad thing.” I hear you say, and no of course it isn’t.  Here’s the thing though – I seldom take time out to motivate myself and that’s not a good thing.  I need to listen to some motivational CD’s or read a motivational book to get me ‘fired’ up every now and then!  I need to attend more motivational workshops like the ones presented by Donna McCallum AKA The Fairy Godmother ( and I definitely need to hear some motivational tips from a source other than me!

Hearing things from another person, often puts your own thoughts into a different perspective, it makes them more profound, more real and they often give you a greater clout about the ears than when you whisper them to yourself.

Clearly, I need to listen to my own words, so until next time when we continue with some more powerful words – where did I put Donna’s book “A Fairy Godmother’s guide to Getting What You Want”?  Ah – there it is . . .

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Friday, February 10, 2017



By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC - March 2008.

Please note that this applies to South African Labour and Best Practice requirements.

So here we are back with the dilemma that Mike finds himself in.  A staff member who is AWOL, who cannot be contacted – too much work for one person, and the possibility of falling foul of the law if he just dismisses said employee and hires another one! Mike is pretty much between a rock and a hard place.

So here is what not to do:
Don’t immediately take the employer off the books and record that they have dismissed themselves.
Don’t immediately hold a disciplinary hearing in the employee’s absence and then fire them.

If George has not formally and clearly resigned, Mike cannot just assume that he has resigned.  If there is no letter from George stating that he has resigned – well he hasn’t and if George hasn’t said “I hereby tender my resignation” (or words to that effect), packed up his worldly possessions and left, never to return again - then he hasn’t resigned.  George has done neither, therefore he has not resigned and he is still legally employed by Mike.

What Mike needs to do now, is to send a telegram to George’s home address saying something like – “you have been absent without leave for the last 5 days, you have not contacted the office to advise the reason for your absence and I have been unable to contact you at all.  This is a formal request for you to contact me on 083 702 8849 or 011 672 3456 or by 2nd April 2008.  If by that date, I have not heard from you, I will have no option but to hold a disciplinary in absentia, for being Absent without Leave and if you are found guilty, you may be summarily dismissed.”

Mike of course, needs to give George a ‘reasonable’ amount of time to respond to the telegram, 3 working days is more than reasonable for the telegram to be delivered and for George to contact the office to explain his absence.

If George does respond, depending on the reason for his absence, a disciplinary should be held.

If George does not respond by the stipulated date, a disciplinary must be held and Mike is well within his rights to dismiss George at this time.

It must be noted however, that a full ‘audit/document trail’ must be kept.  Should George crawl out of the woodwork at some point and decide to take Mike to the CCMA for unfair dismissal (or anything else that he might come up with), if Mike has a clear record of when he tried to contact George (telephone records are good), a copy of the telegram and the disciplinary records and don’t forget the attendance register to evidence that George did not come to work, and that Mike explored every opportunity to make contact with George – chances are that it will be thrown out of court.

It is always a good idea however, to get hold of a Labour Attorney to discuss the facts of the case and to make sure that steps that are taken are within the requirements of the law.  It is also a good idea, if you need to go to a CCMA hearing, to get the sound legal opinion of a good Labour Attorney to assist you.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Vat 101 - The Company, the Trading Name and the Vat

VAT 101 – The Company, the Trading Name and the VAT

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Please note that this pertains to South African VAT (Value Added Tax) Regulations

Sounds like the title of a bad movie, doesn’t it?

The reality is that it can be very confusing so let’s try and explain it in the most simplistic manner.

Let’s bring in the protagonists.  Mike, who is a plumber, has been trading as a ‘Sole Prop’ now for a number of years.  You see when he first started out he was concerned about whether he would be successful or not and he has now decided, due to the tax benefits and other Government concessions for small businesses, that he needs to be properly registered.  Mike has been trading under the name “Mike’s Plumbing & Supplies” and would obviously not like to start from the very beginning again, in terms of marketing and branding.

Unfortunately the name “Mike’s Plumbing & Supplies” has already been reserved and Mike has had to register his Company in his full name, being Mike Jennings T/A Mike’s Plumbing & Supplies.

Mike has had to register the VAT under his new Company.  The VAT that he collects is now under the name of Mike Jennings Company T/A Mike’s Plumbing & Supplies.

Mike is having difficulty in finding properly qualified plumbers and clearly needs to employ same if he wants to grow his business.

Mike recognizes the opportunity and decides to open up a training school to train aspiring plumbers.  Mike decides to use his existing Company to start the training school.

In view of the fact that Mike is using his existing company and it is already VAT registered, Mike has to charge VAT for his school right from the very beginning, although the training of plumbing students is very different to being a plumber, and in fact is a completely different entity to his plumbing business.

In time, Mike decides that he wants to operate his training division as a completely separate entity as it is doing really well.  Mike doesn’t want to start or register a new business, but he does want to separate the bookkeeping functions of the two businesses.

Mike’s bookkeeper, who knows what he is doing, registers a ‘branch’ to Mike’s original Company and so Mike Jennings CC T/A Mike’s Plumbing School is born.  This entity is now also registered for VAT and has its own VAT number.  He does this by means of a VAT 102 form.  The second VAT number for the same “holding” company does not have a minimum threshold and Mike  is able to continue charging VAT to the students.

As Mike’s business grows and he expands into more and different avenues, he is able to separate each entity, register them as ‘branches’ and register a VAT number for each one as he separates the bookkeeping functions so that each ‘branch’ is responsible for it’s own income and expenses and VAT requirements.

Well done to Mike for growing such a profitable business and running it in the correct manner.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or