When starting up a business or working on growing your business, you can easily feel overwhelmed by the many regulatory bodies and requirements in South Africa. It can become a cumbersome process by spending a great deal of your time simply trying to comply.

Although it can be seen as a burden, it would be wise to embrace it as an opportunity to run your business more efficiently. Being compliant requires a lot of hard work, but it will keep you out of trouble with the authorities. Putting the processes and systems in place that you need to satisfy various laws and regulations will give you visibility into, and control over, your business. It is also good for your relationship with customers and your reputation in the market.

The requirements will vary according to the size, structure and industry of your business, but here are a few tips for the small business owner to take into account:

South African Revenue Service

This is one of the country’s most obstinate and professional government departments and it would be highly recommended to maintain a compliant relationship.

  • If you are a sole proprietor or in a partnership, register as a provisional taxpayer.
  • If you have a registered company, ensure that it is registered with SARS, as well as registering yourself as a taxpayer.
  • If you have employess, remember that tax has to be deducted from their remuneration and paid to SARS monthly.
  • If your business has an (or will have) an annual turnover of R1 million, then the business has to be registered for VAT and paid over to SARS.

Department of Labour

An employer has to familiarise themselves with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. This Act governs the relationship between employer en employee, setting out the law around working hours, overtime, leave and processes to be followed on how to deal with employees. You also have to register with the Department of Labour and contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

Workmen’s Compensation

The business has to be registered for Workmen’s Compensation when there’s at least 1 employee in a business, according to The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act. This provides for payment of compensation to employees, and in certain circumstances, their dependants in case of injury or disease in the workplace.

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. This Act provides guidelines around aspects of workplace safety such as first aid, protective clothing, machinery, ladders, fire fighting equipment, ventilation, lighting, temperature, noise and asbestos.

Municipal by-laws

Municipal by-laws, governing zoning, noise levels, hygiene and so forth will also have an impact on your business.

Consumer protection

The government and regulators are becoming more tough about consumer rights in South Africa with laws such as the Consumer Protection Act. It would be good practice to investigate what these