Welcome to

Welcome to

Top Women in business home



Top Women is a trusted network of gender-empowered companies and…

TW Publication

The authority on gender empowerment in business for nearly 20 years.




Stay up to date with the latest news in Women Empowerment


Top Women Podcasts

Welcome to Top Women Business Unusual Podcast

Top Women Masterclasses

Welcome to Top Women in Business Masterclasses

TW Conference

Join the world’s fastest growing platform for women who lead!

TW Regionals

is travelling around South Africa to reach female entrepreneurs

You need to consider becoming a certified women-owned business

Top Women Certified Companies

TW Awards

Are you ready to showcase your gender empowerment?




Contact us

Want to get in touch? We’d love to hear from you.


Visit our office

The authority on gender empowerment in business for nearly 20 years.

How To Manage Mental Health Concerns at Work

Written by Staff Writer

October 11, 2022

 Silke Rathbone, Principal Partner, Labour Excel

There is no doubt that mental health issues have been around for a very long time, and managing staff who are experiencing these issues still needs to be dealt with delicately.  With the onset of the pandemic, mental health-related illnesses and ailments have become front and centre in our world.  However, many employers do not know how to deal with this. The truth is that one needs to manage possible mental health problems as you would any ill health or injury.

With reference to the CCMA’s info sheet on Ill-Health and Injury of 2017, an employer should apply the standard conditions and rules when an employee cannot be at work.

The basic sick leave conditions are (herein taken directly from the CCMA info sheet) *that sick leave works in a three-year cycle. An employee who works five days per week is entitled to 30 days paid sick leave, and an employee who works six days per week to 36 days during a three-year cycle. During every sick leave cycle, an employee is entitled to an amount of paid sick leave equal to the number of days the employee would normally work during a period of six weeks. For example, an employee may take one day’s paid sick leave for every 26 days worked during the first six months of employment, and thereafter an employee may take the number of days he/she normally works in six weeks during each three-year cycle.

An employee may be requested to produce a valid medical certificate if he/she has been absent from work for two days in a row or more than twice in eight weeks. If the employee does not have a valid medical certificate, the employer does not have to pay the employee for the sick leave taken.

When can an employer dismiss because of illness or injury?

Fairness should always take the president above all rules. First, determine whether the illness or injury is temporary or permanent. Oftentimes, that may not be clear from the onset, but over time it can reveal itself.  If it is not apparent, a professional may need to be called in to determine this.  This is important because the following steps are different for each type of illness or injury.  In keeping with the topic here, mental illness does fall within this. 

Permanent Incapacity

The employer must determine whether they can: 

  • find alternative employment for the employee; and
  • adapt the duties or work circumstances of the employee to
  • accommodate the disability/illness.
  • If they cannot do either, then dismissal may be justified.

Get your business featured in one of our publications: 

Temporary Incapacity

Where the incident seems to be a temporary issue, the employer should:

  • Investigate the severity of the incapacity

The employee should be given an opportunity to state his/her case during the investigation and may be assisted by a trade union representative or a fellow employee.


Where it appears the employee most likely will be off for a very long period of time, the employer must consider all the alternatives before  dismissing. These are the areas to take into consideration:

  • the nature of the job;
  • the period of absence;
  • the seriousness of the illness/injury; and
  • the possibility of a temporary replacement.


An employee who contributes to the unemployment fund may, in certain circumstances, have the right to apply for illness benefits on account of his or her illness.

Employers should make a special effort to accommodate employees who have been injured at work or who contracted a work-related disease.

While these are the legal parameters to take into account, I cannot stress enough that you are dealing with a human being and that all possible scenarios should be considered, and always look at what is fair to both parties involved.  Both parties being the employee (and their collective family) and you (and your business).

A mental health condition may not reveal itself quite as clearly as, say, a broken leg, the flu, or even COVID-19, but it is still as serious and should be treated as such.


LabourExcel specialises in offering a variety of Labour Law and HR Solutions.  Silke Rathbone, one of the Principal Partners, has crafted and honed her skillset and assists corporates and individuals along the Labour journey to ensure they understand what is required of them at all levels.

*For more, check out our bumper 17th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here

*Stay up to date with all the latest on Top Women in SA, by signing up to the Standard Bank Top Women newsletter – here

Follow Us On Facebook

Follow Us On

You May Also Like…

4 advantages of change factors in the workplace

4 advantages of change factors in the workplace

Addressing internal and external changes through structural adjustments and actionable values can enhance your organisation’s culture. This initiative could foster a workplace environment where women feel more empowered to voice their perspectives and are motivated to take on additional responsibilities to advance their careers.