Friday, January 29, 2010


Labour Broker Employees – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC January 2010

Following on from last week, this week we will look at some of the other requirements pertaining to Labour Brokers, particularly with regards to the payment of PAYE/UIF/SDL payments.

Who is responsible for paying the PAYE/UIF/SDL. In 1990 the definition of an employee for the purpose of PAYE was extended to a “Labour Broker”. “A Labour Broker is defined as any person who carries on the business of providing the client with other persons to render services or perform work for such client for reward.” An additional requirement was put into place however and that was that the Labour Broker had to apply for and be in possession of a valid ‘exemption certificate’. So what does this mean?

Well essentially it means that like any person who is self employed, if more than 80% of the income of the Labour Broker is received directly or indirectly from one client, then the PAYE/UIF/SDL needs to be paid by the client.

So the reality of this is that Labour Brokers, who have one big client will not be issued with an exemption certificate and the client will have to deduct the statutory requirements and pay them over to SARS pretty much the same as if they were employing the staff.

Changes in the tax rates to Companies also make a significant difference to whether a company uses Labour Brokers and the Minister has now suggested and proposed the introduction of new measures. These measures include (buy are not limited to), to discourage companies from providing services to a client, that converts income that would normally have been taxed as employment income into company income, as this is taxed at a lower rate.

The Minister has suggested that the term ‘employment company’ be used rather than ‘labour broker’, during the classification process. This then means that:
a. The income from services rendered by ‘employment companies’ will be subjected to employees’ tax. At this point (when the article I have used was written), the rate was not specified.
b. The allowable deductions of an employment company would be limited to the monies paid to shareholders and/or members and/or other employees of the company.
c. The income of an employment company would be taxed at a rate of 35% and any dividends declared by the company would be subject to STC which would result the actual tax rate being 42.22%
Note: These tax rates, in all probability may have changed – please check with a SARS office to ascertain what the correct rate is for the current year, as this legislation came into effect from 1 August 2000.

Next week we will have a look at some of the other requirements for Labour Brokers particularly with respect to the CCMA requirements.

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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

EARLY WARNING - Keeping Your Business & It's Information Safe


Keeping Your Business and Its Information Safe

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2010.

I realize that for some this may be a bit like ‘closing the stable door after the horse has bolted’, since the holidays are over (mostly for another year). That said, I don’t believe that keeping your business safe should only be done during the times that you are away on holiday. Keeping your business safe and keeping the information and/or data pertaining and belonging to your business needs to be kept relevant all the time.

Closing the doors to your business without making sure that you have all the arrangements made to keep your information (be it physical and/or electronic) safe and ensure that your business is sufficiently secure is relevant whether you are going home for the evening, or the weekend, or indeed a holiday. We all know that the reality of the situation is that it is no longer safe just to close and lock the doors and be on our way. Ongoing problems such as building fires and theft need to be managed, even whilst we are not ‘at the office’.

I would suggest that a checklist of things that should be done be implemented to ensure that everything is covered. Some of the issues that need to be looked at are (but not limited to):

• It is a good idea to make sure that your important documentation is stored in a fireproof safe or cabinet.
• Electronic information should be properly backed up with copies of everything stored off site or in cyberspace somewhere – don’t forget to randomly test the information to make sure that it is not corrupt, especially if you are using disks and/or flash drives. Also please think about what you are doing – don’t leave your back up disks lying next to the computer and/or the external hard drive next to the computer. If it is the hardware that thieves are after your external hard drive is just as important as the computer and if it is your information that they are after – well leaving your backups where they are easily accessible is just not clever!
• If the ‘back ups’ of your electronic data is outsourced to someone, make sure that they are actually doing the back ups – insist on a report of some sort (every time that they do the back up) that evidences that a back up has in fact taken place.
• Ensure that the correct data is being backed up – having your photo’s safe and sound is great, but having all of your business information and all of your business transactions safe is even better!
• All the usernames and passwords pertaining to your IT department should be kept on record, somewhere safe (irrespective of whether or not they already have this information on record or not) in case of an emergency. It is of the utmost importance that the business owner and/or at the very least, their assistants have this information. This should include (but not be limited to) passwords and user names for all system administrator accounts, websites, applications, intranet sites and business solutions etc.
• Get the employees to assist you – have a good walk around and have a look at potentially weak and/or dangerous areas, especially those that are cluttered. Look for wall plugs (or even plugs on extension cords) that are overloaded, or emergency exits and/or fire exits that are blocked. Don’t ignore things like faulty lights (they could mean an electrical fault that could cause a fire) or broken windows. Test alarms (in fact alarms should be tested on a regular, irregular basis and a full report should be submitted from your service provider on a monthly basis so that you can see if alarms are set when they are supposed to be etc) and electric fences to ensure that they are in good working condition. This would also obviously apply to those who have things like smoke detectors and smoke alarms and the like.
• Access to your premises both after hours as well as when you are away should also be monitored, especially if you have a skeleton staff on duty or no staff at all. People floating about, when there shouldn’t be anyone about at all could be a potential problem.
• Make sure that security personnel know exactly who is allowed access and who isn’t. Make sure that your security personnel check the perimeter on a regular, irregular basis and that they report on everything that is both normal and out of the norm. Incident logs are necessary, especially after hours or when the company is closed for the holidays.
• Keys, passwords and access cards should be monitored and audited on a regular basis. In fact, as part of your ‘exit interview’ the return of keys, changing of passwords, return of access cards, return of cell phone, cars, computers and everything else that is usually given to staff (and don’t forget the petrol cards and even company credit cards) should be documented and signed for. When auditing – make sure that all the keys, passwords and access cards are accounted for, authorization for cutting of keys etc, should be strictly controlled.
• Auditing on a regular, irregular basis of who has access to the online systems, such as banking etc is also of vital importance especially if there is no dual control of passwords or authorization of transactions required. It really would be quite a disaster if you came back from holiday to find that the bookkeeper has emptied out the coffers and is now on permanent holiday somewhere in the Cayman Islands! In fact if the offices are closed and there is no need for anyone to access the bank accounts, it might be a good idea to have the bank block access until the return of the relevant staff and/or when the business re-opens.
• If there is a skeleton staff on duty, make sure that proper handovers are done and documented.
• Make sure that passwords are changed on a regular, irregular basis, to keep them safe and secure.

Putting a check list in place and making the relevant employees sign off evidencing that all of the above (and any other requirements that you may have) has been done will go a long way to ensuring the safety of your business and the information/documentation/data that is relevant to your business. As usual being proactive is a lot easier and a lot cheaper in the long run than being reactive.

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Power of Networking - Part 145


PART 145

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. January 2010

According to Michael Gerber, who is the author of The E-Myth only 4% of ALL businesses make it past 10 years. How scary is that?

Gerber has shown that 80% of all businesses fail in their first 5 years and then 80% of the remaining 20% fail in the next 5 years.

For me, the reality is that it is not what you know, but who you know that makes the difference. Actually if the truth be told, the reality is more, who you don’t know, who know who you do know!

The reality is that no matter how fantastic your product and/or service is, if you cannot sell it, you will starve.

The reality is that building a successful business is about building relationships and trust.

The reality is that getting decision makers (whether they are from a Corporate type environment or a small ‘one man’ type business) to do long term business with you will mean getting them to trust you. They need to know that you really care about their needs.

Now how are you going to get into seeing those decision makers? Where will you find them (other than ‘cold calling’ which I detest with a passion)? For me, there’s only one place and that is at a Networking event. Even if you only attend one Networking meeting a month and you only connect with one or two people, it is still quicker and easier than trying to set up appointments with people who have no clue who you are and what it is that you do.

Not only does Networking provide me with an endless source of new decision makers, but it also affords me the opportunity to engage with people who are like minded. It allows me to ‘brain storm’ with people who have engaged in the same struggles as the ones that I have been through.

By it’s very nature, the people who attend Networking meetings come from all walks of life and therefore represent many industries and a variety of businesses. I have never, for example, been to a Networking meeting that was attended by 20 people and all of those people were Accountants!

The reality of it is that at proper Networking meetings, we are encouraged to share and discuss ideas. We are encouraged to ‘think out of the box’. Innovative thinking is a goal that we all aspire to achieve and transferring those ideas from one business to another means successful business for all concerned.

The reality is that although there may be competition from people who are in the same or similar businesses, collaboration is encouraged. Joint ventures are encouraged and strategic alliances are definitely encouraged.

Often, what we cannot achieve on our own, becomes highly possible when we share, like the tender that is too big for one person but can be successfully tackled by two or three people who are in exactly the same business and who would have on their own been unable to deliver.

Don’t automatically view your competition in a bad or negative light, but look for opportunities where you can work together successfully or even add to each others value.

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

BUSINESS TIPS - Payroll Tips for Tax Year End 2010 - Part 3

BUSINESS TIPS – Payroll Tips for Tax Year End 2010 – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC January 2010

Last week I touched on some of the requirements that an employer would need to work through in terms of the payroll and the tax year end pertaining to 2010.

Here are the rest of the requirements that I came across during my research.

Now you have to get a little technological:
• This is where you have to go to the SARS website at and then in the middle of the page towards the top you will see the e@syFile logo. Click on that to download the file. Be aware though that according to the latest information (latest at the time this article was written), the upgrade will only be available from 1st April 2010 (so diarize it and do it then).
• Once the download is complete you need to capture all the employee information as well at the tax certificate information onto e@syFile. This must include:
- All the employee’s personal information
- The employee’s contact details including their residential address
- The employee’s bank account details
- The Employment information
- The Source Codes and Amounts. Please be aware that you will need to use the correct source codes for all the transactions that were used on all the employees payslips and that where necessary, the source codes may have to be consolidated. Be sure to enter the correct values for each source code.
• Next you will need to consolidate the EMP201 with the monthly SARS payments on the EMP501 reconciliation. Make sure that these amounts balance with the tax certificate values.
• The tax certificates and Reconciliation Declaration using SARS e@syFile must be submitted before 31 May 2010 to ensure that you are not hit with penalties and interest. Again, diarize it to ensure that it is submitted on time.

That’s the end of that – make sure you keep these notes so that you know what to do in 2011. I know that it looks like it could be quite a mission, but the truth of the matter is that once you have loaded what needs to be loaded, most of it is a once off. Keep notes as since it is only needed once a year, it is very easy to ‘forget’ what to do.

Remember, if you are not sure about what you are doing rather go to SARS and speak to one of the consultants there – better to do this the right way than to mess it up and have hassles with SARS thereafter.

Next week we will be looking at something different again.

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

Monday, January 25, 2010

MOTIVATION - Starting the Change with You

MOTIVATION – Starting the Change with You

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – January 2010

There is a story that goes something like . . .

Once upon a time there was a man who always felt insulted by people around him. This man went to visit a very wise man and told the wise man all about this problem that he had.

He told the wise man how easily he was insulted by the people around him and how it hurt him when people said bad things to him or about him.

The wise man then asked the man a question that went something along the lines of ‘if someone gives you a gift and you don’t accept the gift, who does the gift belong to?’

The man was thoroughly confused and conveyed this to the wise man.

The wise man tried again saying, ‘if someone gives you a gift and you accept the gift, who does it belong to’?

‘Well it belongs to me’, said the man ‘if it was given to me, then it belongs to me.’

‘So’, said the wise man, ‘if someone gives you a gift and you don’t accept that gift, who then does the gift belong to?’

‘Then’ the man replied, ‘the gift still belongs to the person who is giving it to me’.

‘So there’s your answer’, said the wise man, ‘if someone insults you and you don’t accept the insult from the giver, then the insult still belongs to the giver.’

As usual it’s about choice and how we choose to react to issues and other people’s stuff!

I am often amused at the reaction of people when I say that ‘other people’s opinion of me is none of my business’! Believe me when I say it, because it is something that I really believe and quite frankly I really don’t give a continental . . . well, I’m sure that you understand exactly what I mean.

That said, I still seem to get angry when people have disparaging remarks to say about the people that I love. Clearly, that too is my choice and it is something that I will need to look at and process once way or another.

It’s also often about negativity. I have spent most of the year listening to people moan and groan about the economy, the government, taxes, non-paying clients, the recession (insert anything you like hear) and most of the time their comments have irritated me because of what I saw as ‘their’ choice of actions and yet I am doing exactly the same thing when I get annoyed by other people’s remarks about those that I love. Instead of rejecting their ‘gift’ of insults or disparaging remarks, I buy into them and react negatively. Clearly that has to change.

Now it is much easier to say than it is actually to do, but that said change can only happen if it starts with me. I cannot just sit here on my rear end and command that things change. The change starts with me and in order for it to start, I have to be aware of what the choices are that I am making. So for me, it is one of those times that I do the ‘note to self’ thing and this article is clearly, my ‘note to self’.

So starting from today – insults will no longer be accepted by me? What about you? Will you still be accepting the ‘gift’ of insults?

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

Friday, January 22, 2010

HR - Labour Broker Employees - Part 1


Labour Broker Employees – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC January 2010

There has been a lot of controversy in the news of late regarding Labour Brokers and indeed, I have some clients who use Labour Brokers for their staffing requirements. Most people are under the impression that by using the services of a Labour Broker, they will save themselves the usual staffing problems and hassles that are usually incurred when dealing with employees – let me be clear on this, nothing is further than the truth! Here are some issues that employers need to understand when using Labour Brokers. These are, but not limited to:

Labour Broker employees enjoy exactly the same rights as any other employee under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. This means that even of the Labour Broker loses the client or the contract comes to an end, the employee cannot just be dismissed. Let’s bring in the protagonists.

Mike is a Labour Broker who employs hundreds if not thousands of employees all over the country. He has clients in every major sector and enjoys a mainly good relationship with most of his clients who range from small 5 employee requirements to clients who have need of hundreds of employees.

George is one of Mike’s employees. George has worked for Mike for the last 15 years, with the majority of that being in a Distribution company (let’s call them ABC Logistics), where George is a driver.

ABC Logistics have undergone some intense restructuring of the company and have decided to go the route of ‘owner/driver’, which obviously has a huge impact on the 500 odd drivers that they employ from various Labour Brokers. The contracts with the Labour Brokers are slowly but surely not being renewed and Mike finds himself with 150 drivers that he no longer has any work for as his contract was not renewed. Mike’s contract with all of his employees is a ‘temporary’ contract that does not have an end date, as Mike thought that this would be the easiest way to manage the employees, in the event that he lost contracts.
Mike decides that since he has lost the contract and therefore has no work for all of these drivers and since they are all ‘temporary’ staff anyway, he will just dismiss them and then that will be the end of that.

Mike sent out notices to all of the drivers advising them that the contract with ABC Logistics was coming to an end and that it would not be renewed and therefore his contract with the drivers would also be coming to an end.

When the contract ended, Mike dismissed all the drivers. George found himself another job and went to the CCMA as he did not receive a retrenchment package (also known as severance pay).

Mike found himself in hot water with a huge bill to pay. Here’s the thing – just because you have a ‘contract’ in place that says that you are a temporary employee, doesn’t make it so. A ‘temporary’ contract that does not have an ‘end date’ gives the employee a permanent status which means that his termination can only be for a very good reason.

Labour law is also extremely clear on what the requirements are in terms of severance pay and it is well documented. When retrenching staff the value of their severance pay and/or retrenchment packet hinges on the number of completed years that they have worked and be warned, there is no ceiling on this. So in George’s case, Mike had to pay out 15 weeks salary, but had George worked for Mike for 30 or even 40 years it would have made no difference – Mike would still need to pay one week for every completed year of service.

The only way that Mike could have avoided paying the severance pay would have been if he had offered George reasonable alternative employment, which in this instance clearly was not the case.

Mike learned the hard way, that even though he was a Labour Broker, his employees still needed to be treated fairly in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act.

Next week we will have a look at some of the other requirements for Labour Brokers.

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

Thursday, January 21, 2010

EARLY WARNING - The Stolen Cell Phone


The Stolen Cell Phone

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2010.

I received this story from my friend and colleague Toni Guerrero, who writes:

“This lady has now changed her habit of how she lists her names on her mobile phone after her handbag was stolen. Her handbag, which contained her cell phone, credit card, wallet . . . . etc . . . . was stolen.

20 minutes later when she called her hubby, from a pay phone telling him what happened, hubby says ‘I received your text asking about our Pin number and I’ve replied a little while ago.’

When they rushed down to the bank, the bank staff told them all the money was already withdrawn. The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text ‘hubby’ in the contact list and got hold of the pin number. Within 20 minutes he had withdrawn all the money from their bank account.

Moral of the lesson: Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list.

Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Sweetheart, Dad, Mom and so on.

And very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked for through texts CONFIRM by calling back.

Also, when you’re being texted by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back and confirm that the message came from them. If you don’t reach them, be very careful about going places to meet ‘family and friends’ who text you.”

I certainly did not think of the above! Take care and be safe. Oh, and don’t forget – pass this on to everyone that you know.

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Power of Networking - Part 144


PART 144

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. January 2010

Napoleon Hill said that “No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third invisible, intangible force”, whilst Andrew Carnegie’s secret of success revealed “Economic advantages may be created by any one person who surrounds himself with the advice, counsel and personal cooperation of a group of men who are willing to lend him wholehearted aid in a spirit of perfect harmony.”

Now why would any of us even begin to doubt or even question the words of these two great and successful men? Not me hey, if I can learn from others instead of having to learn the lesson myself, usually in the most painful way, well then I am a happy camper!

On top of that, what they are saying makes perfectly logical sense to me as well. It is my personal experience, in a Networking environment (particularly the ones that I go to), that like minded people are more than willing to assist, to connect you to their data bases, to recommend you to other like minded people – it’s a collaborative effort.

My colleague and friend Colleen Larson of WIF (Women In Finance, ) always tells folk “that even as a group, we (WIF) know that we cannot do everything and indeed we wouldn’t want to as we want to create the opportunities for our members”.

For me it’s almost like ‘playing it forward’. It’s like Oprah Winfrey says in her “What I Know for Sure” when she says that her friend and mentor Dr Maya Angelou always says “When you learn, you teach. When you get, you give.” It’s about helping those navigate their way through the mine field that you have just walked through. It’s about mentoring whilst you yourself are being mentored. It’s about empowering people and SMME’s whilst I, myself am being empowered.

It’s about surrounding myself with people who make things happen, rather than people who are constantly wondering what the hell happened!

So pick your Networking events with care. Make them work for you and don’t forget to work them too.
Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

BUSINESS TIPS - Payroll Tips for Tax Year End 2010 - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Payroll Tips for Tax Year End 2010 – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC January 2010

Last week I touched on some of the requirements that an employer would need to work through in terms of the payroll and the tax year end pertaining to 2010.

Here are some more requirements that I came across during my research.

The following information needs to be captured for each employee (where possible):
• Employee Surname and First Two Names
• Employee ID Number
• Employee Passport Number and Country where the passport was issued
• Employee Date of Birth
• Employee Tax Reference Number
• Employee Contact Telephone Number – Home, Business, Fax or Cell
• Employee Residential Address
• Employee Bank Account Details.

Once all this information is loaded and/or captured the Year End Procedures can be dealt with. These are (but not limited to):

• The whole year’s pay slips, for each individual employee, needs to be added together and all the source codes for each employee should also be grouped together
• As a ‘balance check’ the PAYE, UIF and SDL should be recalculated per employee, per month for the year. These figures should then be compared to the monthly EMP201’s and all the payments made to SARS to ensure that they are correct.
• Again as a ‘balance check’, all the values on the monthly EMP201’s should be added together and compared to all the monthly payments that were made to SARS and they should match. These amounts should also match the total tax amounts as they appear on the IRP5’s and the EMP501. Should there be any discrepancies and or differences these should be shown on the EMP501 reconciliation and if necessary they should be paid across to SARS. For your own records (and in the event of a SARS audit), you should keep a written explanation as to what occurred when these discrepancies took place.
• Once everything is reconciled all the information should be captured manually into the SARS e@syFile. This must include the information pertaining to each employee as well as the tax certificate values and this then should be submitted to SARS.

That’s enough information to digest in one go, so next week we will continue with the next step of the requirements.

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

Monday, January 18, 2010

MOTIVATION - Keep Moving

MOTIVATION – Keep Moving

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – January 2010

William Golding in his “lessons In Life” piece says “Consider a man riding a bicycle. Whoever he is, we can say three things about him. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. Most important of all, we know that if at any point between the beginning and the end of his journey, he stops moving and does not get off the bicycle he will fall off it. That is a metaphor for the journey through life of any living thing and I think of any society of living things.”

So what is it about the human race that we are all so incredibly unique and yet exactly the same? I guess if I knew the answer to that I would know the secrets of the Universe. What I do know though is that we all have to go through it all in the same way. There are no short cuts. We all start somewhere and we all end up somewhere else and in between those two points we have to move forward and grow as individuals. Sure there are times that we seem to go around in circles and sometimes we even travel backwards for a time, but essentially we are moving all the time.

Some of us move faster than others, some seem to whizz by with little effort, some seem to drag themselves about, some are relatively baggage free and some seem to be weighed down in the extreme, but what we do is move, searching, in every direction that we choose to take ourselves, for the meaning of life, for our life’s purpose, for whatever it is that we hunger for that always seems to be just out of reach.

The more we think we know, the less we actually know and the harder we look for it. I am constantly reminded of my own limitations when I celebrate something that I have just learnt only to discover that putting it into practice still needs to be accomplished. Just when I think I have it sorted the ‘lack of’ my knowledge pushes me ever onwards and upwards.

Sometimes I despair at the constant ‘striving’ to get there – it often reminds me of a journey I once took from Port Elizabeth to Durban. The road curved left and right at almost impossible angles and it felt like it was climbing ever upwards and as I was getting to the crest of one hill and I thought that it would not get any higher, I would reach the top only to discover that there was yet another hill, a little higher than the one that I had just climbed, ahead of me. Sure the view was nothing short of spectacular, but the terrain was hard, unyielding and unforgiving. I could not imagine how people lived there, yet everywhere typical little African huts dotted the country side. Children looked after herds of cattle and sheep and chickens and donkeys walked in the road. I remember feeling as though I was literally at the top of the world, yet at some point the road, still twisting and turning sloped ever downwards and with it the feeling of me returning to normalcy (whatever that may mean for me).

I also know that no matter if we are moving forward or round and round or backwards or up or down, that we move by the choices that we make or even don’t make. I know that we can control the speed with which we move and the direction that we move by the acceptance of the lessons that we learn. By embracing what we learn and by trusting ourselves and believing in ourselves and ‘what is’ we come to the realization of our dreams.

I know that in order for us to be the master of our own destiny we have to keep moving. I know that in order for us to attain and achieve our goals we have to keep moving. I know that the minute we stop moving we will literally cease to exist.

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

Friday, January 15, 2010

HR - Desertion and the AWOL Employee - Part 3


Desertion and the AWOL Employee – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC January 2010

Over the last two weeks we have had a look at an example of desertion where the employee just did not ever come back to work and one where the employee did come back to work. This time let’s look at a different example.

So bring in the protagonists – Mike owns a chain of retail stores in various busy malls across the country. George is one of his managers. Let’s use the busy Christmas time type scene again. It’s a Thursday morning and Jane (the Assistant Store Manager) calls Mike to tell him that George has not arrived for work and there is a queue of clients (as well as the rest of the staff) waiting for the store to open.

Understandably, Mike is somewhat annoyed but he hurries off with the store spare keys to open up. Mike tries to contact George on all of the numbers that he has to no avail and then resigns himself to the fact that George won’t be in for the day. Mike’s procedures are well documented and he goes about doing a formal hand over to Jane, who grabs the opportunity willingly as she wants to prove herself and get ahead.

On Friday (day two) Jane advises Mike that once again George has not arrived at work and they try and contact him again, leaving messages all over.

Saturday (day three), Jane again advises that George has not arrived at work and again they try and contact him, leaving messages for him everywhere.

Sunday (day four), Jane makes the call again to advise Mike that George has not arrived for work.

Monday morning early George arrives together with a long story of how he was kidnapped. Mike, who was furious, now feels remorse about his anger and now starts feeling pity for his traumatised employee instead. A thought keeps popping into his head however because for someone who was kidnapped and physically restrained (as per George’s story) and held without food or water in a dark room, there is no visible signs of any trauma. Mike decides to ‘keep it tidy’ and asks George for the Police Case Number and hospital records where George was ‘checked out’ to ensure that he was okay, for the records.

Several days later after much nagging, George breaks down and admits that there is no case number as he did not report it to the police and he did not go to the hospital because well, there was no kidnapping. The actual event that took place was that George went out drinking with his friends on the Wednesday evening and they continued to drink through the night and then all of Thursday too. At some point it was decided in their alcoholic haze that they needed an excuse as to why none of them had gone to work and they came up with the kidnapping story. The alcoholic binge had continued through Friday and Saturday as well and George had slept through Saturday night and all day Sunday which is why he was able to return to work on Monday morning.

Furious again, Mike brought disciplinary charges against George for being AWOL (following the correct procedures of course) and George was found guilty. The days that he had been off were calculated as unpaid leave and the money was deducted from George’s salary. George’s elaborate story also had consequences. George was demoted and lost his title of Manager and Jane was promoted into his position.

That concludes the examples of the difference between ‘Desertion’ and being AWOL. Next week we will look at a new topic.

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

Thursday, January 14, 2010



The Stolen GPS

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting January 2010.

I received this story from my friend and colleague Toni Guerrero, who writes:

“A couple of weeks ago a friend told me that someone she knew had their car broken into while they were at a football game. Their car was parked on the green which was adjacent to the football stadium and specially allotted to football fans. Things stolen from the car included a garage door remote control, some money and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard.

When the victims got home, they found their house had been ransacked and just about everything worth anything had been stolen.

The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house. They then used that garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house. The thieves knew that the owners were at the football game, they knew what time the game was scheduled to finish and so they knew how much time they had to clean out the house. It would appear that they had brought a truck to empty the house of it’s contents.

Something to consider if you have a GPS – don’t put your home address in it. Put a nearby address (like a store or gas station) so that you can still find your way home if you need to, but no-one else would know where you live if your GPS were stolen.”

Sounds like sound advice to me. One of the things that I have realized during my time on this planet is the fact that everything good thing that comes into our lives has a ‘dark side’ and people who are that way inclined will always find a way to use that to their own advantage. This is just one example of that.

So take care, beware, be aware and stay safe.

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Power of Networking - Part 143


PART 143

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. January 2010

I don’t know about you, but time for me is something that is in very short supply and I value it immensely. Little wonder then that I get extremely peeved when people waste my time.

Corporates are notorious for wasting people’s time and the amount of time that it takes for them to make a decision about anything often makes me wonder about whether they actually know how to make one at all and in moments of extreme agitation and irritability I wonder how they actually function as a business. Their inability to make any kind of decision must surely hamper anything that they may be trying to achieve.

Understandably then, I much prefer to do business with and deal with the like minded business people that I generally meet at Networking meetings. There’s no beating around the bush. Decisions are made based on the input available and with a minimum amount of fuss and bother.

You see, we all know and understand firstly, the reason why we are at the Networking meeting, which is to do business, to meet people and to build relationships. Secondly we all understand that the time of everyone there is a precious commodity, so we don’t waste each other’s time. There is no pondering and pampering of egos. There’s no dancing about and around the issues. It’s either Yes, or it’s No!

The quick decisions, and yes they are informed decisions are what makes Networking so valuable to all concerned. The ‘no nonsense’ let’s get done because I have other things to do, makes it for me a valuable source of new clients, new service providers, new contacts and new relationships.

Knowing ‘how to’ Network effectively is one of my greatest assets!

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

BUSINESS TIPS - Payroll Tips for Tax Year End 2010 - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Payroll Tips for Tax Year End 2010 – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC January 2010

Well I am expanding somewhat in terms of my business and apart from the new Virtual PA that I now employ, I will be looking at additional assistance in the New Year. This means of course that I needed to look at the new PAYE/SDL and UIF requirements implemented by SARS.

My Company of course is already registered as an ‘Employer’ as I am an employee in my own company and getting myself registered on e-filing was a real nightmare, and I would prefer not to go through that whole experience again, so I have done a little research and whilst I may not know everything (and please believe me when I say that I don’t) here are a few of the things that I did find out.

· The Tax Certificates that are submitted to SARS must be in the format that SARS requires for the 2009/2010 year end submissions. My interpretation of this is that none of the ‘old forms’ will be accepted. My concern here is for people who do not have access to the internet – this could be a real problem for them.
· The electronic tax certificates imported into SARS e@syFile must include an Employer Trade Classification code. If memory serves me correctly, this had to be set up when you originally sign on for EasyFile (although what is so easy about it eludes me at this point).
· The addresses of both the employee and the employer have to follow a specific format when they are submitted. The format is:
- Unit Number
- Complex Name
- Street Number
- Street/Farm name
- Suburb/District
- City/Town
- Postal Code
· The actual Tax Certificates have to be 30 characters long and these characters are made up of the following
- Employer’s PAYE reference number
- The Tax year (remember in this case it will be 2010)
- Unique combination of 16 characters
· The Nature of the Person codes have also been updated/upgraded/amended. The changes of some of them are:
- Code M – Foreign Employment Income (this is no longer in use)
- Code K – Personal Service Trust (this is no longer in use)
- Code H – Personal Service Company ( this one has been renamed to Personal Service Provider to include Personal Service Trust) – talk about confusing!
- Code N – Pensioner (new code) – I have no idea what code pensioners fell under previously.
· If a Passport Number is entered for an employee then the Passport Country of Issue must be supplied.
· Each employee’s Income Tax Reference Numbers are required.
· Contact telephone numbers for each employee are required – big brother is watching.
· Business and Residential Address details are mandatory for each employee – I am not sure how you would handle staff who are residing in squatter camps or informal settlements – and big brother is really watching!
· Employees who are NOT paid in cash are required to supply their bank account details.
· Tax Certificates will be limited to two pages – these are:
- Page 1 – Employer and Employee Demographic information
- Page 2 – Employee Financial Information. Limited to 13 Income and 7 Deduction Source Codes - this is why they say that they have simplified the tax returns!
· The total UIF and SDL contributions must also be included on each employee tax certificate.

That’s enough information to digest in one go, so next week we will continue with the next step of the requirements.

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

Monday, January 11, 2010

MOTIVATION - Consulting Your Hopes & Your Dreams

MOTIVATION – Consulting Your Hopes & Your Dreams

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – January 2010

Pope John XXIII says “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”

Ain’t that the truth! It’s usually around the end of a year and the beginning of the following year that many of us struggle with what we haven’t achieved during the year or the previous year as we try, yet again to set ‘realistic’ goals for the coming year. We beat ourselves up for our perceived failures and we berate ourselves for lost opportunities. We chastise ourselves for not doing more and punish ourselves, often very unfairly, for not having done the right thing. How sad is that?

What we need to do is turn it around – face backwards and instead of seeing all the failures, perceived or real, look at all that you have achieved. Look at what you did, that wasn’t even on the list, or the goal that you achieved without even planning it in advance. Look at what you managed to get to despite the odds. Look at who you have become because of what you have achieved and the things that you have accomplished. Look at the new clients that you have found, not to mention the clients that you have retained, even though you have been in a tough market.

While you are still in the ‘glow’ of accomplishment and pride, look at what you can still achieve. Look at the horizon and see your future. Put your plan of action into first gear and take the first step. Don’t worry if you fall down, just make sure that you get up again and take the next step. Don’t worry if you want to cry with frustration, just make sure that you smile in anticipation of what you will feel when you take the next step. Don’t worry if you are overwhelmed with a sense of failure, think about the sense of pride you will have when you succeed and take the next step.

Dare to dream! Dare to hope! Dare to succeed! Dare to take the first step and then the next and then the next and pretty soon you will be sprinting towards the finish line and as you cross it, celebrate! Celebrate each step, celebrate each goal achieved (whether they were set or planned or not). Celebrate the fact that despite the fear you were able to see the potential and the possibilities and that you acted in order to achieve.

Celebrate your life!

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

Friday, January 08, 2010

HR - Desertion and the AWOL Employee - Part 2


Desertion and the AWOL Employee – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC January 2010

Last time we had a look at an example of desertion where the employee just did not ever come back to work. This time let’s look at a different example.

So bring in the protagonists – Mike owns a chain of retail stores in various busy malls across the country. George is one of his managers. Let’s use the busy Christmas time type scene again. It’s a Thursday afternoon and George is counting the hours until the weekend as he is taking his monthly weekend off and plans to go home to visit his mother who is in a small town about 200kms from where he lives. George’s mother is not very well and he is looking forward to spending some quality time with her.

The phone rings and it is George’s mother’s neighbour Annabel, who is calling to tell George that his mother has taken a turn for the worst and he must come home immediately. Mike happens to be in the store when the call comes in and he tells George to leave immediately and take the Friday off as well and that this extra day together with the weekend will give George sufficient time to sort something out for his mother and make whatever arrangements need to be made for her well being.

George gets to his mother and she insists that she wants to see the traditional healer from her home town which is more than 1000kms away. George takes her.

Herein lies the problem. You see Mike is expecting George to return to work on Monday and George does not return and also does not phone in to explain what he is doing. In fact George does not return to work for another two weeks and during this whole period he does not contact Mike or any other colleagues. After George not being at work for 5 days and in compliance with the Basic Conditions of employment Act and the Labour Relations Act, Mike follows the correct procedure. Mike tries to phone all the contact numbers that he has on record for George. Mike sends a telegram to George’s place of residence and even drives there to see if he can get hold of George. To all intents and purposes, George has disappeared.

Eventually Mike holds the disciplinary in abstentia, George is found guilty of desertion and he is dismissed.

When George eventually does return to work, he is informed that he has been dismissed and that there is another person employed in his position.

Now here is the question – under these circumstanced did George desert and abandon his employment or was it just a case of his being AWOL. The question that the CCMA has to look at also is whether the reason for George’s dismissal was a fair one.

Well the argument goes along the lines of, when George did not return on the Monday after his weekend off, surely Mike must have considered the possibility that George was not able to sort his mother out and that is why he had been delayed in returning.

Mike on the other hand, did also not have anyone to fill George’s position and it was also the busiest time of the retail year. George did not contact Mike during the entire period that he was away and he also did not respond to any messages that were left on his cell phone. George’s response to why he did not contact Mike was that he was concerned for his mother and did not think to phone as Mike knew that his mother was ill.

Now here’s the thing – in order to find an employee ‘guilty of desertion’ there must be a very strong indication that that employee has no intention of returning to work. Clearly this is not the case here and the result of this is that Mike lost his case.

Desertion is defined as “desertion is distinguishable from absence without leave in that the employee who deserts his or her post does so with the intention of not returning, or having left his or her post, subsequently formulates the intention not to return. On the other hand, the AWOL employee is absent with the intention of resuming his or her employment.”

Next week we will have a look at a typical case of being AWOL (Absent without leave.

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

Thursday, January 07, 2010

SALES - Increasing the Number of Units Sold

SALES – Increasing the Number of Units Sold

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC January 2010.

Over the last two weeks we have looked at the how to increase the number of your clients as well as how to increase the frequency of the sale. Today we are going to deal with increasing the number of units sold.

Now logic must tell you that by merely increasing the number of customers and increasing the frequency of the sales, you will automatically increase the number of units that you have sold.

Understanding how to add value to this equation will mean that you will also increase the number of units sold even more. Think about it for a moment – if you have say 100 new clients, that’s 100 more sales, but if your product and/or service requires that they are used more frequently, say every two weeks, instead of once a month, that means that you have 200 more sales. Now add to that a product and/or service that can be used in conjunction with another product and/or service and now suddenly you have 400 sales.

Obviously the more value that you add to the deal, the more units per sale you will sell. How cool is that, and how perfectly simple too.

Actually the beauty of this is several fold – you see you are not only adding value to you customer, but you are also building a strong sustainable relationship with that customer and in building the relationship you are also building customer loyalty.

Finally, don’t forget that you need to see real results in order to measure your success. So start with what you actually know about your customers, add your market research to that and you will have a winning formula. The more relevant customer-focused type information your have on your clients, the better your platform for generating new clients, retaining current and ‘old’ clients and generating more sales.

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

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Power of Networking - Part 142


PART 142

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. January 2010

I have recently been “invited” into the inner sanctum of the Corporate Leader! The emphasis however, is on the “invited” as this is the exception rather than the rule and the reality of the situation is that a huge number of hours are lost to SMME’s on a daily basis as they try and get through to the decision makers.

Hours are spent each day doing the ‘dance’ with PA’s, assuming of course that you have made it past the receptionist or even the switchboard operator.

You see, you are seen to be as no different to the thousands of other people who are trying to get their product and/or service noticed. Why would you think that would be treated any differently to the way that they are treated.

Networking though, gives you the opportunity to be directly in front of the person that you need to talk to. It levels the playing field, so to speak and it puts you in a better position to discuss issues as a peer, rather than just another person trying to make demands on their time.

Remember though that time is always of the essence, so don’t be wasting theirs (or yours for that matter), be prepared. Have all of your information and potential promotional material at the ready.

Keep it short and concise and interesting, you’ll actually achieve and make far more of an impact that way.

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

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

BUSINESS TIPS - Being Straighforward

BUSINESS TIPS – Being Straightforward

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC January 2010

In her Leadership Insights nuggets, Dr Renate Volpe says “Straightforwardness simply means aligning the verbal and non-verbal messages to mean the same.”

Well that makes logical sense and it is also pretty straightforward don’t you think? So why it is so difficult to do? Why did Renate feel so strongly about it that she had to use it as one of her 50 tips on Leadership Insights? Well my guess would be because often people who are aspiring to be leaders just don’t do it.

I know that even in the smallest of businesses, there is often a hidden agenda, there is often some sort of politics going on – whether it is a conspiracy of the staff to do whatever they can to upset the bosses or drive a wedge between senior management or indeed discredit their peers. Often the bosses or management set it up so that the staff are constantly striving to undermine each other in an attempt to be ‘teacher’s pet’ and to score the most brownie points.

For me this is just counter productive and a waste of time and energy, never mind the distrust that it causes and often the result is a less than perfect product and/or less than satisfactory service for the client. Besides that, how on earth do people remember what they have said to whom – it’s like trying to play several games of chess all at once – far too much irritation and drama for me!

Those that know me, know that I would far rather have a simple life and that for me is just telling it like it is! That way the verbal will definitely match up with the body language and the rest of the non-verbal indicators, everyone will know where they are, what is expected of them, what my perception is and we can get on with the task at hand – building sustainable businesses, building sustainable relationships with and for my clients. Being known for my integrity and credibility and ensuring my deliverables.

I’d far rather have that agenda out in the open and transparent for all to see than all the other BS that goes with hidden agenda and the political games that so many others play.

What about you – which journey would you rather take?

For more details on what Renate does, please visit her website on

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

Monday, January 04, 2010

MOTIVATION - Our Calling

MOTIVATION – Our Calling

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – January 2010

Dr Naomi Stephan says “You have a calling which exists only for you and which only you can fulfill.”

We are, each and every one of us, governed by our beliefs. Whether that belief system was implemented by our family or whether it is one that has been chosen and designed by ourselves, matters very little in the long run. The fact and reality of the matter is our actions (and indeed our inactions), the way we think and what we do with our lives, is governed by our belief system.

It is my belief that we are all here on this planet, sharing this journey with the billions of other people all around us, for a specific reason and that that specific reason is our life purpose.

Now, I know that many will disagree with me and then of course there are those who will insist on embarking on a negative journey, one that is full of anger and/or destruction and/or hatred and hurt. That is their choice and I have no doubt that they will reap their just deserts one way or another.

As we go into this New Year and the end and/or beginning of the decade, I am filled with a feeling of hope that we all will find our true calling, the only one that we as the unique individuals that we are, can fulfill.

I am full of a sense of anticipation when I look around and see all the opportunities. The journeys and the projects that we have already started or that wait patiently for us to start.

I am engulfed with a sense of wonder at the realization of what my purpose is and that of my own personal calling and I do understand that it is something that only I can do, and I think I’m ready, hell – I hope I am ready to take it on and meet the challenge. Actually if the truth be told, I can’t wait to get started! I am chomping at the bit, straining against the inactivity, frustrated at the fact that I have to wait, for a little while in any event, while everyone rests over the festive period and I know that perhaps I should also be resting so that I am fit and able to take on the huge task ahead of me. But the reality is that I cannot wait, I am eager to start – I want to see where the journey takes me!

The feeling for me is akin to what I feel when we are about to get an electrical storm. I can sense it, I can smell it, I can feel it and I know that pretty soon I will see it too. It’s exciting, it’s really scary and I am almost breathless with the anticipation of what it to come and the profound effect that I know it will have on my life. My senses are all ‘a tingle’ and I am intoxicated with the delicious expectancy of what is about to happen.

So perhaps this missive is a warning to all who know me, a warning that 2010 will see me like I have never been seen before. The words at the end of my e-mail of “Lead, follow or get out of the way” will never be truer and I challenge you all, to take the opportunities, seize the day and live every moment with every fibre of your being and then watch what happens!

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