Housing – is the producer responsible for unmade beds, dirty dishes, or other hygiene matters inside an occupant’s house? 

If a business offers accommodation to its workers, certain legislative requirements are applicable to that business, and also certain compliance criteria will be measured. The “state of the occupants living arrangements” is not regulated by law, although businesses often have accommodation rules or housing agreements in place that stipulate what the occupants’ responsibilities are. As part of the audit, the auditor will evaluate the structural, safety and hygiene of the accommodation. This does not include whether the bed has been made or whether the occupant washed their dishes or not. There are, however, clear hygiene risks that could be applicable. For example, if the auditor can see waste in or at the house, it could cause a health risk. Auditors will evaluate the risks to the occupants, and also the risks to the business. If a fire risk exists at the house, then the owner of the property is responsible for ensuring it is implemented. Naturally, the housing agreement may also place a responsibility on the occupant to maintain it, or if damaged, the replacement cost can be deducted. During an audit, the auditor will also look at any maintenance conducted by the business over the last year, especially in the last 6 months (if applicable), to determine whether a finding is justifiable or not.


What is the producers’ responsibility towards houses that are occupied by non-employed workers?

The accommodation facility/building is the property of the owner. If occupants reside on the premises, whether it be illegally or due to pending court orders, the structural safety of the building remains the owners’ responsibility. The auditor will evaluate the risk to the farm on the day by determining whether these accommodation facilities pose a risk. If producers are not maintaining the buildings, and there is no reason for doing so, then it’s likely that a finding will be raised if the facilities pose a risk. Remember that if accommodation is subject to employment, and the employee leaves the employment, the business must follow through on the notice to vacate. If the occupants are illegally staying on the farm, the business can follow legal procedures to assist with a formal eviction unless the occupants are residing legally if they meet requirements set out by the Extension of Tenure and Security Act (ESTA).


How is the business protected when auditors conduct anonymous interviews with workers and one worker has a grudge against a manager/owner? Is this being reported on during the audit?

The auditor cannot raise a finding based on the comment of only one worker unless they were able to triangulate the evidence or found substantiating evidence through more interviews. The auditor will need to look at documentary evidence such as grievance records, complaints raised by worker committees, etc., and interview more workers to determine whether this was an isolated case, possibly untrue or whether it was shared by other workers as well.


Can my buyers see my findings after my audit, even if I have not yet submitted corrective actions?

It is a market requirement that the signed Corrective Action Report should be available within 24 hours after an audit. Once an audit has been conducted, the auditor loads the various findings on the platform, which allows the CAPS report (Corrective Action Plan) to be shared during the closing meeting. At this stage, the audit is still in progress, meaning the auditor will need to finalise the full report and send it for review at the audit firm. Only once the full report has been reviewed and approved will the buyers have access and visibility to the full audit report. The buyers, whether it be your local supermarkets, exporters, importers or global retailers, will most likely ask you to share the CAP report received on the day following the audit. This is because the buyers need to always have visibility on the supplier’s compliance status. Not only is this part of overall risk management, but it is often a need because of certain Due Diligence directives that buyers must meet globally. The SIZA programme does not provide an Audit Completion Letter until all the corrective actions have been submitted by the producer and closed out by the auditor. Therefore, once a producer receives the Audit Completion Letter, it is a testament to the process being completed in full and the improvement that has taken place.

In cases where a critical finding was raised, SIZA is bound by its market acceptance to share the risk with the buyers that are linked to the profile or the supplier. Although SIZA will notify the buyer, SIZA will also manage the risk by confirming with the buyer whether the necessary actions have already been taken to correct and manage the risk according to an agreement with the supplier, and in most cases their first-level export company.

It is not at all SIZA’s intention to damage or harm the value chain, but rather to secure a sustainable environment to supply with integrity, ethical and sustainable practices in place.

How can producers be more prepared to evaluate their contracted labour service providers?

It is employers’ responsibility to ensure that service providers comply with legal requirements, as they are jointly and severally liable for any non-compliances raised against a service provider they have contracted. SIZA offers some guidance on monitoring and evaluating labour service providers further. Therefore, before you appoint a temporary employment service, please ensure that they are registered with SIZA and comply with legal requirements. For more information, visit the SIZA labour service providers document library.


What is the purpose of the SAQ if a full audit needs to be conducted anyway?

SAQs must be updated every year within 90 days from the annual renewal of the profile. If producers lapse in updating their SAQs, their Audit Completion Letters (‘certificates’) will no longer be valid. The status of the SAQ will be visible to buyers on their risk reports. Although producers are allocated a Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze status after an audit (which is valid for one, two, or three years depending on the status), they must renew their membership and update their self-assessment questionnaires (SAQs) annually. One of the conditions of the two and three-year audit periods is that SIZA must monitor between audits whether members maintain ethical and environmental practices and standards during that time. If membership is not renewed and the SAQ is not updated annually, visibility on MySIZA, Sedex, and GLOBALG.A.P. databases will also be compromised, and the Audit Completion Letter cannot be verified.


Why did my audit risk rating change from Silver to Bronze?

The SIZA programme is improvement‐led rather than audit‐led and uses the SIZA Audit Frequency Matrix to support this position. It creates four categories of risk: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, where the Platinum category has the most stringent qualifying criteria. A SIZA member will be rated according to these risk categories, based on the number and rating of each finding during each of their audits. As producers must drive continuous improvement and implement the required practices within their business, they should aim to get fewer findings and a higher rating during their next audit. It is important to remember that circumstances change over time and with each season there are new challenges such as a different workforce, changes in legislation, different market requirements, and other external factors that might influence everyday business operations which can lead to different risk factors. The SIZA Audit Frequency Matrix can be viewed here.


When should the SIZA audit take place?

Audits should take place during a period when the employment site is in full operation (such as peak production or harvest). In any event, there should be a minimum of two-thirds (66%) of the total number of workers (calculated during the busiest period) present in the workplace for the audit to be deemed valid. If any processing or packing facility is on site, this facility should be accessible and in operation to allow for a thorough evaluation by the audit team.


Can my audit only include my permanent employees?

When a business conducts a SIZA social/ethical audit, there must be at least 66% of the total workforce present, including all types of employees such as permanent, seasonal, part-time, etc. It is also important to remember that the audit must take place during a period when the site is in full/peak production and in any event where a packing or processing facility forms part of the business, this must be in operation. View the SIZA Social Audit Process and Methodology for more information on the audit process.


Which audit firms are recognised by SIZA to conduct audits?

The competency and accreditation of the audit company are crucial to the integrity of the SIZA audit programme. Part of this process ensures the objectivity and reliability of the audit company. By adopting this approach, SIZA ensures its independence from the audit companies and drives a robust and reliable process. SIZA endorses the auditor’s recognition programme as designed by The Association of Professional Social Compliance Auditors (APSCA) as a requirement to audit companies to apply for acceptance to be recognized by SIZA. On top of this requirement, SIZA’s Auditor Competency reference tools describe who can perform audits and will be used as the basis for the recognition of not only audit companies, but also auditors for the SIZA programme.


What happens if corrections are not done and uploaded to MySIZA BEFORE the deadline?

The SIZA programme has been developed in such a way that the audit validity period is reduced if corrective actions are not uploaded by the deadline as agreed between the auditor and producer on the day of the audit. This means that regardless of the initial risk rating received, whether it is Platinum, Gold or Silver, the certificate will only be valid for one year/one season. Conducting an audit is only one part of the process — the more crucial part remains the corrective actions afterwards. This shows growth and development which speaks to the continuous improvement of the site allowing for better socially responsible and sustainable practices.

  • To start, you will have to log in to your MySIZA profile. Once logged in, go to the “Audits” tab at the top of your screen.
  • Make sure to select the “All” list view. A list of all your audits, both Social and Environmental, will appear. You can click on the “Audit Start Date and Time”-tab, which will arrange your audits in ascending order.
  • Click on the audit name where you would like to upload corrective actions. Once you are on the audit record, go to the “CAPs” tab and select “View All”. Here you will see a list of all your findings for the specific audit.
  • To view and upload a corrective action, click on the Response Number. Here you will see the details for the specific corrective action.
  • Scroll down and click on the “Upload Files”-button. Your file explorer will open a window. In your file explorer, find and click on the document you wish to upload and click on “Open”.
  • You will see a preview of the file under “Response Files Uploaded”.
  • Upload your file and remember to click save.
  • Once uploaded, the MySIZA platform will send an automated email to the auditor to notify the auditor that the corrective action was uploaded.
  • Corrective actions must be approved and closed by the auditor, once reviewed.
  • Once the audit moves to ‘Completed’ status, the Audit Completion Letter will be issued automatically and will be available on your profile to download or to review online.


Do rest periods include Sundays?

Workers must receive a weekly rest period of not less than 36 hours which must include a Sunday (unless otherwise agreed and the employee agrees to work on a Sunday and rest on another day). Legal reference: SD13 Part D: Clause 19.1.b read together with 19.3.


What does parental leave entail?

The amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) make provision for parental leave, adoption leave, and commissioning parental leave. Accordingly, the amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act puts in place the necessary mechanisms to give effect to the BCEA amendments relating to parental leave. The new legislation means that all parents – including fathers, adopting parents, and surrogates – are now entitled to 10 consecutive days of unpaid parental leave when their children are born. Claims can be made with the UIF. Legal reference: BCEA, Section 25A, as amended.


Should I monitor the labour service provider (TES/Independent Contractor) that I use on my farm?

Ensuring that service providers are legally compliant is relevant to employers who are jointly and severally liable for any non-compliances raised against a service provider that has been contracted. Although the onus of compliance rests specifically with Temporary Employment Services (TES’s), it is also pertinent that producers are aware that this might include independent contractors, as well as companies that identify as such, despite meeting the criteria for a TES. Due to this reason, both a TES and independent contracts must be monitored by the producer, although the level of monitoring differs. SIZA has provided guidance for this, available here. The important aspect to remember is that producers should ensure that they have an adequate agreement in place and labour service providers are monitored throughout production periods to showcase compliance within their labour supply chain. For more guidance and example checklist producers can use, click here.


Can I provide my employees with employment contracts after they commence work?

Employers need to provide employees with a contract when they start working as per legal requirements, Sectoral Determination 13, Section 9(1). Employers cannot wait days, weeks, or months before supplying an employee with a contract. The employment contract must also be explained and understood by the employee when they start working.


Why are time records so important?

Maintaining adequate records of hours worked is extremely important for employers, as this will be a determining factor when it comes to payment to employees. As per the National Minimum Wage Act, employees should be paid at least the minimum wage for each hour worked and therefore adequate records must exist to ensure auditors can triangulate whether the payment for hours worked on the payslip correlates with the documented hours worked. For businesses that do not make use of an electronic recording keeping system, the manual system must be reviewed to ensure it is accurate and meets all legislative requirements.


What information should be visible on an employee’s payslip?

With each pay period, employees should receive written particulars concerning their pay, i.e., payslips. Such particulars must, as a minimum, contain all the information required by law. It sometimes happens that producers use payroll programmes that cannot be altered unless an additional development is requested. In these cases, employers must ensure that the following details are present on the payslip as a minimum. Auditors cannot request additional information to be visible on the payslip unless it is a legal requirement:

  1. Employer’s Name and Address — i.e., the business name and address
  2. Worker’s name and occupation
  3. Period for which payment is being made – e.g., 1 October 2021 – 30 October 2021
  4. Wage rate and overtime rate (N.B. This is the rate, i.e., 1.5 and not the actual amount)
  5. Number of ordinary hours worked
  6. Number of overtime hours worked (where applicable)
  7. Number of hours worked on a Sunday and/or Public Holiday (where applicable)
  8. Gross wage for the period
  9. Any other pay – e.g., bonus
  10. Details of any deductions made
  11. Employers’ UIF number and employee’s contribution to the Fund
  12. Net Pay (i.e., total actual pay)

For an example of a payslip, feel free to view the example supplied by the Department of Labour: https://siza.co.za/laws-around-payslips/


Why is water analysis so important for Health and Safety in the workplace?

Legally, workers must have access to clean and sufficient drinking water in or near their place of work. As the access to drinking water is deemed a basic human right, water analyses ensure that the water which is made available is safe for human consumption. Producers must conduct a microbial analysis of the water to showcase whether it is safe. Drinking water must conform to the national standards established by the South African Bureau of Standards. If applicable, there should be sanitary facilities for food preparation and storage. Drinking water should be readily available and provided in accordance with Regulation 7 of Facilities Regulations GN R1593. SIZA requires a microbial analysis of the water to be done and that water should be tested according to a risk assessment and meet the South African National Standard for Drinking Water – SANS 241. Employers should ensure they make use of an accredited SANAS laboratory when having water tests conducted.


How do you distinguish between a Temporary Employment Service (Labour Broker) and an Independent Contractor?

Temporary employment services (TES) are commonly referred to as labour brokers, in South Africa. TES are regulated mainly by the Labour Relations Act, No 66 of 1995 (LRA) and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, No 75 of 1997 (BCEA).
There are 7 criteria that would form the basis for a rebuttable presumption as to whether an employment relationship exists. If any one of these criteria is met, the employees’ employer is a TES and not an Independent Contractor.
  1. The manner in which the person works is subject to the control or direction of the client;
  2. The person’s hours of work are subject to the control or direction of the client;
  3. In the case of a person who works for an organisation, the person forms part of that organisation;
  4. The person has worked for the client for an average of at least 40 hours per month over the last three months;
  5. The person is economically dependent on the client for whom he or she renders services;
  6. The person is provided with tools of trade or work equipment by the client; or
  7. The person only works for or renders services to one client.

How does payment work during public holidays if the employee would not have normally worked on that day?

An employer may not require an agri-worker to work on a public holiday, except in accordance with an agreement. If a public holiday falls on a day on which an agri-worker would ordinarily work, an employer must pay a worker who does not work on the public holiday at least the wage that the agri-worker would ordinarily have received for work on that day. A worker who does work on the public holiday must be paid at least double the daily wage; or if it is greater, the daily wage plus hours worked for that day.

If an agri-worker who works on a public holiday on which the worker would not normally work, the employer must pay that worker an amount equal to the worker’s daily wage; plus, the worker’s hourly wage for each hour worked on the public holiday.

In short, if an employee doesn’t normally work on a Saturday and that day is a public holiday, that employee should be paid a full day’s wage, plus the hours worked. i.e. If the employee agrees to work on Saturday which is a public holiday for 6 hours, the employee will be paid for one day (normal daily wage) plus the 6 hours worked.

Can an employer issue a fine to an employee if he/she damages work equipment?

Sectoral Determination 7(3) stipulates that an employer may not levy a fine against an agri-worker. The SIZA Social Standard is furthermore clear in its code requirement that no fines or mention thereof shall be permitted as a form of discipline. It is important to remember that deductions for the replacement or repair of lost or damaged goods does not constitute a fine.

However, if this is necessary, it is important that due process and procedural fairness is applied. This is especially important where the loss or damage of equipment is accompanied by a disciplinary process. Employers must be sure to deduct only for the replacement cost of the goods replaced and retain the invoice of the purchase or a copy thereof on file to demonstrate that the deduction was not a fine.

It is illegal to levy fines against agri-workers as a result of poor performance or any other issue which is or could be related to discipline in the workplace. All deductions must be accurately recorded and all disciplinary hearings as well their outcomes must also be on record.

Payroll SD13: The number of ordinary hours worked

Verifying hours using manual systems during audits has become an increasing concern for auditors. In many cases, auditees supply attendance registers that do not adequately indicate the actual time worked for a particular employee. This method also poses issues when trying to verify aspects such as piece work.

Although a grower cannot be forced to implement an electronic system to precisely monitor working hours digitally, if an auditor does not deem a record-keeping system adequate, because interviews indicated that employees work longer or shorter hours, the site will have to implement a more effective system to ensure records of working hours are adequate and traceable. The system that is implemented should at all times be satisfactory in showcasing the correct number of hours worked.

The system that is implemented can vary from business to business, however, if a manual system is utilised, it should be verifiable by the auditor on the day. In cases of piece work, the number of hours should still be reflected on the payslip. In all cases, the member will need to ask the payroll system to adjust the layout and information on the payslips if need be.