The issue of business compliance may be a touchy one for most South African business owners, with many feeling that there is too much red tape.
This is largely because keeping up with the regulatory and legislative demands can be time-consuming for business owners, and even costly if there is a need to bring in professional help.
“Compliance is hard work, but it will keep you out of trouble with authorities such as the taxman”
Ivan Epstein, co-founder of Softline and CEO of Sage AAMEA (Australia, Asia, Middle East and Africa), a specialist business software solutions provider, shares his regulatory and legislative checklist for South African SMEs.
“Compliance is hard work, but it will keep you out of trouble with authorities such as the taxman and the Department of Labour.
“Plus, putting the processes and systems in place you need to satisfy various laws, and regulations will give you visibility into, and control over, your business. What’s more, it’s also good for your relationship with customers and your reputation in the market,” he says.
Here are the big regulatory issues that every business needs to keep ahead of.
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is one of the country’s most tenacious and professional government departments, so it’s wise to maintain a professional and transparent relationship. If you’re a sole proprietor or in a partnership, register with SARS as a provisional taxpayer.
If you have registered a company, be sure to register it with SARS, in addition to registering yourself as a taxpayer. If you have employees, you must remember to deduct tax from them and pay it to SARS each month. Also, you must collect and pay VAT if your business has an annual turnover in excess of R1 million.
“Municipal bylaws, governing zoning, noise levels, hygiene, and so forth will also have impact on your business”
2. Labour laws
As an employer, familiarise yourself with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. This law governs relationships between companies and employees, setting out rules around working hours, overtime, leave, and the processes that need to be followed should you need to dismiss an employee. You’ll also need to register with the Department of Labour and contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).
3. Health and safety regulations
The Occupational Health and Safety Act gives workers a range of rights in terms of health and safety in the workplace. Regulations in the Act provide guidelines around aspects of workplace safety such as first aid, protective clothing, machinery, ladders, firefighting equipment, ventilation, lighting, temperature, noise and asbestos.
4. Municipal bylaws
Municipal bylaws, governing zoning, noise levels, hygiene, and so forth will also have an impact on your business. For example, you will probably need permission to run a noisy manufacturing operation or a nightclub in a quiet suburban street, and should you wish to renovate your office building you may also need permission for that.
5. Consumer protection
With laws such as the Consumer Protection Act, government and regulators are becoming more stringent about consumer rights in South Africa. You should investigate what these laws have to say about how you should advertise your goods, structure your contracts with consumers, handle customer data, deal with merchandise returns under warranty, and so on.