Small business support during COVID-19

The uncertainty and financial strain being placed on entrepreneurs and small business owners by the global coronavirus pandemic is being alleviated somewhat by a host of public and private support schemes.

Small business owners and informal traders are amongst the South Africans who are most heavily impacted by the lockdown. In order to get through this difficult time, these business owners can take advantage of a number of interventions that government has put in place to assist them.

SMME Debt Relief Fund

Following the announcement of the lockdown, the Department of Small Business Development immediately made a debt relief fund available for small businesses negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than R500 million has been made available through the fund, which small and medium enterprises must apply for through an online application process.

Here are the steps that need to be followed:

  1. Your business must be registered on the SMME South Africa portal. If you are not yet registered, you need to go to to register.
  2. Once your registration is complete, you can apply for the COVID-19 SMME Debt Relief Fund. You can find the application form on the Department of Small Business Development’s website.
  3. If you meet all the criteria (such as your business being tax compliant and 100 percent owned by South Africans), relief funding will be paid out to approved applicants within 12 working days.

If you own a micro-enterprise, then the Small Enterprise Development Agency is available to help you to apply to the debt relief scheme. Requests for assistance must be emailed to sends e-mail).

Solidarity Response Fund

President Cyril Ramaphosa also announced the launch of the Solidarity Response Fund, which received a R150 million kickstart from government. The fund allows organisations and individuals to donate to the nationwide effort to support small businesses and COVID-19 response efforts.

In the first two weeks of the fund, over R2 billion was donated, which will be channelled into relief efforts.

Support for spaza shops

Government has recognised the unique challenges that the pandemic poses to those working in the informal sector. In this respect, Minister for Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has also released support packages for people working in this sector.

This includes a dedicated support scheme for spaza shops.

“The spaza shop support will include dedicated networking, purchasing power and bulk purchasing through pre-selected and pre-approved wholesalers,” explains the minister.

This support will allow spaza shops to gain access to goods which they can sell. Minister Ntshavheni adds that the scheme will also provide credit to spaza shop owners, to allow them to access the money needed to buy stock.

“This will be followed by a credit facility to enable spaza shop owners to continuously buy, even after the COVID-19 outbreak is over.”

The department will also provide advice on how to successfully run their shops.

“We are also supporting them with business management support because we know that there are problems in spaza shops running their businesses to be profitable,” Ntshavheni says.

Helping informal traders

Government is also working on creating a package that will provide income relief to informal traders who have lost income due to the crisis.

Informal businesses also qualify for the SMME Debt Relief Fund but are required to register with the department in the same manner as other small businesses.

For information about financial relief for small businesses, call 0860 663 7867.



Employers are reminded that all Employer Annual Reconciliation Declarations (EMP501), Employee Tax Certificates [IRP5/IT3(a)s] and, where applicable, Tax Certificate Cancellation Declarations (EMP601) for the period 1 March 2018 to 28 February 2019 must be submitted to SARS by 31 May 2019.
It is crucial for employers to submit their annual reconciliation within the deadline and issue their employees with IRP5/IT3(a) certificates.  These are the main documents required for individual taxpayers to file their personal income tax returns during Tax Season, which commences on 1 July 2019.
There are elements on the EMP501 that must reconcile for the reconciliation submission to be successful. These are:
  • Monthly Employer Declarations (EMP201s) reflecting  monthly Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deductions, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and Skills Development Levy (SDL);
  • Payments made (excluding penalty and interest payments);
  • Employee Tax Certificates [IRP5/IT3(a)s] generated; and
  • Employment Tax Incentive calculations, if applicable for the period.
By requesting a Statement of Account after a submission on eFiling, employers are able to view any outstanding debt, outstanding returns and unallocated payments.
Declarations can be submitted via @syFile™ Employer or eFiling.   Manually completed payroll tax forms are no longer accepted.  Employers are encouraged to avoid the last-minute rush and ensure time for corrections, if required.
Copies of all declarations submitted must be kept for a minimum period of five years.
Since SARS uses the information declared by employers to prepopulate personal income tax returns, employees are reminded to check the information on their IRP5/IT3(a) certificates as well as the information submitted on tax certificates from third party institutions such as medical schemes.  If information on the tax return is incorrect, the employee is required to approach their employer or third party institution to correct the information.
SARS tax education workshops on the use of e@syFile™ and employer annual reconciliation declarations are available before the deadline at various branches around the country.  The schedule is available on the SARS website at ‘Useful tools_Learn about Tax‘.
The SARS Contact Centre can be contacted on 0800 00 7277 while guidelines on how to file can be obtained from the SARS website under the section on Businesses and Employers.


National Treasury and SARS are proposing the following set of measures to help businesses focus on staying afloat and paying their employees and suppliers.

Useful links:

1. Employers:

  • An increase in the expanded employment tax incentive amount: The first set of tax measures provided for a wage subsidy of up to R500 per month for each employee that earns less than R6 500 per month. This amount will be increased to R750 per month at a total cost of around R15 billion. An increase in the proportion of tax to be deferred and in the gross income threshold for automatic tax deferrals: The first set of tax measures also allowed tax compliant businesses to defer 20 per cent of their employees’ tax liabilities over the next four months (ending 31 July 2020) and a portion of their provisional corporate income tax payments (without penalties or interest). The proportion of employees’ tax that can deferred will be increased to 35 per cent and the gross income threshold for both deferrals will be increased from R50 million to R100 million, providing total cash flow relief of around R31 billion with an expected revenue loss of R5 billion.
  • See our FAQs for Employers.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

2. VAT:

  • Fast-tracking of value-added tax (VAT) refunds: Smaller VAT vendors that are in a net refund position will be temporarily permitted to file monthly instead of once every two months, thereby unlocking the input tax refund faster and immediately helping with cash-flow. SARS is working towards having its systems in place to allow this in May 2020 for Category A vendors that would otherwise only file in June 2020.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

3. Provisional Tax:

  • See the following measures aimed in assisting small to medium sized businesses (individuals, companies, and trusts (including micro-businesses) to alleviate cash flow problems for compliant provisional taxpayers:
    • Deferral of a portion of the payment of the first and second provisional tax liability to SARS, without SARS imposing penalties and interest for the late payment of the deferred amount;
    • The first provisional tax payments due from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020 will be based on 15 percent of the estimated total tax liability, while the second provisional tax payments due from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 will be based on 65 percent of the estimated total tax liability (after deducting the 15% payment amount received from the 1st period into account);
    • Provisional taxpayers with deferred payments will be required to pay the remaining 35% tax liability when making the third provisional tax payment in order to avoid interest charges on assessment.

4. Excise:

  • A deferral for the payment of excise taxes on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products: Due to the restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, payments due in May 2020 and June 2020 will be deferred by 90 days for excise compliant businesses to more closely align tax payments through the duty-at-source system (excise duties are imposed at the point of production) with retail sales. This is expected to provide short term assistance of around R6 billion.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

5. Skills development levy:

  • Skills development levy holiday: From 1 May 2020, there will be a four-month holiday for skills development levy contributions (1 per cent of total salaries) to assist all businesses with cash flow. This provides relief of around R6 billion.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

6. Corporate Income Tax:

  • Postponing the implementation of some Budget 2020 measures: The 2020 Budget announced measures to broaden the corporate income tax base by (i) restricting net interest expense deductions to 30 per cent of earnings; and (ii) limiting the use of assessed losses carried forward to 80 per cent of taxable income. Both measures were to be effective for years of assessment commencing on or after 1 January 2021. These measures will be postponed to at least 1 January 2022.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

7. Carbon Tax:

  • Three-month deferral for filing and first payment of carbon tax liabilities: The filing requirement and the first carbon tax payment are due by 31 July 2020. To provide additional time to complete the first return, as well as cash flow relief in the short term, and to allow for the utilisation of carbon offsets as administered by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the filing and payment date will be delayed to 31 October 2020, providing cash flow relief of close to R2 billion.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

8. Penalties:

  • Case-by-case application to SARS for waiving of penalties: Larger businesses (with gross income of more than R100 million) that can show they are incapable of making payment due to the COVID-19 disaster, may apply directly to SARS to defer tax payments without incurring penalties. Similarly, businesses with gross income of less than R100 million can apply for an additional deferral of payments without incurring penalties.
  • How to apply for the waiving of penalties for tax debt:
    • Larger businesses (with gross income of more than R100 million) that are incapable of making payment due to the COVID-19 disaster, may apply to defer tax payments without incurring penalties by emailing us on
    • Similarly, businesses with gross income of less than R100 million can apply for an additional deferral of payments without incurring penalties by emailing us on
    • For more information on the requirements and documents to include in the application, see the How do I query my debt webpage.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

9.  Expanding access to Living Annuity Funds:

  • In order to assist individuals who either need cash flow immediately or who do not want to be forced to realise living annuity investments that have underperformed, Government proposes amending GN290, Government Gazette 32005 of 11 March 2009 by expanding access to living annuities for a limited period of four months, beginning 1 May 2020 and ending on 31 August 2020 as follows:
    • Allowing individuals who receive funds from a living annuity to temporarily immediately either increase (up to a maximum of 20 per cent from 17.5 per cent) or decrease (down to a minimum of 0.5 per cent from 2.5 per cent) the proportion they receive as annuity income, instead of waiting up to one year until their next contract anniversary date;
    • Allowing individuals to adjust their draw down rates at any time during this period (irrespective of whether or not the contacts¡¦ anniversary date falls within the said period);
    • Any elections made during this period will only be applicable for the above mentioned four-month period. The lapsing of this period will result in the draw down rates automatically reverting to the rates applicable before said election.

In addition, Government proposes to amend GN1164, Government Gazette 31554 of 30 October 2008 as follows:

  • The R50 000, which is the minimum value of the annuity or part of the retirement interest which an individual can withdraw in the event that there was any previous lump sum commutation in the fund and R75 000 in any other case be replaced by a single threshold of R125 000 to be applied as the de-minimis amount.
  • The proposed amendments to the de-minimis amounts to R125 000 will not be limited to the four month period and will continue to apply therafter.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

10. Increasing the deduction available for donations made to Solidarity Fund:

  • To alleviate the cashflow difficulties of employees where their employers contribute to the Solidarity Fund on their behalf, Government is proposing a special relief measure by temporarily increasing the current 5 per cent tax limit in the calculation of monthly PAYE of the employee. An additional limit of up to a maximum of 33.3 per cent for three months or 16.66% for six months, depending on an employee’s circumstances, will be available.This will ensure that the employee gets the deduction that is in excess of 5 per cent much earlier than under normal circumstances and will therefore not have to wait until final assessment to claim a potential refund, provided the donation is made to the Solidarity Fund. It is, however, important to note that a final determination must still be made upon assessment as the employee may have other income, deductions or losses that impact the final taxable income before the deduction of donations.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.

11. Adjusting PAYE for donations made through the Employer to the Solidarity Fund:

  • In order to encourage South Africans to make contributions to the Solidarity Fund in line with the President’s call to action, it is proposed that the tax-deductible limit for donations, currently 10 per cent of taxable income, be increased to 20 per cent in respect of donations in cash or of property in kind donated and actually paid or transferred to the Solidarity Fund at the end of the year of assessment of the donor to the Solidarity Fund during the 2020/21 tax year. There will, thus, be a limit of 10 per cent for any qualifying donations (including donations to the Solidarity Fund in excess of its specific limit) and an additional 10 per cent for donations to the Solidarity Fund.The 20 per cent tax-deductible limit for donations will apply only to donations made during the 2020/2021 tax year. Any donations over the limit made during the 2020/2021 tax year will be carried forward and deemed to be a donation made in the succeeding year of assessment (2021/2022) and be subject to the 10 per cent limitation in that year.
  • See Treasury and SARS’s Explanatory Notes on Tax Measures.




ACCA is offering ICB registered students who have completed their ICB National Diploma Financial Accounting NQF 6 qualification the following special;

Item Standard Price Offer Price*
Initial Registration £40.00 £30.00
Subscription year 1 £112.00 £0.00
Exemption AB (F1) £80.00 £30.00
Exemption MA (F2) £80.00 £30.00
Exemption FA (F3) £80.00 £30.00
Exemption LW (F4) £106.00 £30.00
Exemption PM (F5) £106.00 £106.00
Exemption TX (F6) £106.00 £30.00
Exemption FR (F7) £106.00 £106.00
Exemption AA (F8) £106.00 £106.00
Exemption FM (F9) £106.00 £106.00

Discounts will only be applied to the exemptions the student is eligible for, following assessment by ACCA Customer Operations.
* Exemption discount is only applicable to ICB registered students.

Please make use of the following code CB8 on the application where it indicates registration code. It is imperative that the code is used to make use of the discount.

To register, please follow this link and pay the required fee online;

To familiarise yourself with ACCA, its presence, student support, fees as well as the registration process, please click here:

All queries can be directed to Linah Thaba at

+27 11 459 1904 (Direct Line)


To access the registration guide, please follow this link to the knowledge base.

COVID-19 – Tax measures to counter impact of virus

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Sunday announced exceptional tax measures to counter the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The Minister of Finance has announced the following exceptional tax measures as part of the fiscal package outlined by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 23 March 2020 in his speech on the Escalation of Measures to Combat COVID-19,” said the Ministry of Finance.

The measures come as South Africa is currently under a 21-day lockdown, which got underway at midnight on 26 March. To date, South Africa has recorded over 1 000 cases of the virus.

These measures are over and above the tax proposals made in the 2020 Budget on 26 February 2020.

The tax measures include:

·        The introduction of a tax subsidy to employers of up to R500 per month for the next four months for private sector employees earning below R6 500 under the Employment Tax Incentive. This will help over 4 million workers.
·        The South African Revenue Service (SARS) will accelerate the payment of employment tax incentive reimbursements from twice a year to monthly to get cash into the hands of compliant employers as soon as possible.
·        Tax compliant businesses with a turnover of R50 million or less will be allowed to delay 20% of their employees’ tax liabilities over the next four months and a portion of their provisional corporate income tax payments without penalties or interest over the next six months. This intervention is expected to assist 75 000 small and medium term enterprises.

“The tax adjustments are made in light of the National State of Disaster and due to the significant and potentially lasting negative impacts on the economy from the spreading of the COVID-19 virus,” said the ministry.

It said there is a critical need for government interventions to assist with job retention and assist businesses that may be experiencing significant distress.

The measures will take effect from 1 April 2020.

Bills to be taken to Parliament

“The measures will be given legal effect in terms of two bills to be tabled when Parliament re-convenes later this year for retrospective enactment. These bills are the Disaster Management Tax Relief Bill and the Disaster Management Tax Relief Administration Bill,” said Treasury.

The draft bills, alongside their draft explanatory memorandum, will be published for public comment on the National Treasury and SARS websites by 1 April 2020.

“Together with the Commissioner of SARS, National Treasury will also be considering additional exceptional adjustments to assist with COVID-19 relief efforts and to the tax treatment of newly formed funds in this regard,” said the ministry.

The draft explanatory notes regarding the COVID-19 tax measures can be found on the National Treasury ( ) and SARS ( ) websites.

COVID-19 – Current Interventions to Provide Relief to Businesses

As you know, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a national lockdown with effect from midnight on Thursday, 26 March. As accountants, we’re duty-bound to support his efforts to mitigate and slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus. At the same time, we need to make sure clients and businesses survive the lockdown.

The President announced a number of interventions that place accountants and tax practitioners at the centre of the response to fight COVID-19. We urge you to carefully consider these interventions to be informed and ready to serve your clients. Your technical abilities will be the hope for many in distress.

This is a summary of the current interventions available and under development to provide relief.

  • National Disaster Benefit Fund: R 30 Billion has been allocated to a special National Disaster Benefit Fund, which will pay Unemployment Insurance Fund benefits for up to three months to qualifying workers whose income has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. This fund will address the coronavirus related job losses, support job retention, illness payouts and reduced time claims.
  • Informal sector support: A safety net is being developed to support persons in the informal sector.
  • SASSA: The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants for pensioners and people with disabilities to be paid early.
    Temporary Employee Relief Scheme: A special dispensation for companies that are in distress, through this employees will receive wage payment through the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme, which will enable companies to pay employees directly during this period and avoid retrenchment.
  • Banking sector: The Department of Trade and Industry has passed new regulations in the banking sector. The exemptions will allow banks to work together which will help small businesses, consumers and firms in distress.
  • Tax subsidy: A new tax subsidy of up to R 500 per month for the next four months for employees earning below R 6 500 per month.
  • Employment tax incentive: SARS to accelerate employment tax incentive reimbursement from twice per year to monthly.
  • PAYE & Provisional corporate income tax: Tax compliant businesses with a turnover of less than R50 million will be allowed to delay 20% of their PAYE liabilities over the next four months and a portion of their provisional corporate income tax payments without penalties or interest over the next six months.
  • Compensation Fund: Employees who fall ill through exposure at their workplace will be paid through the Compensation Fund.
  • SMME SA: The Department of Small Business Development made R 500 million available to distressed SMEs. Registration is now open for small and medium-sized businesses that require help during the coronavirus crisis.
  • IDC: The Industrial Development Corporation, together with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has committed R 3 Billion to a range of funding products in support of business to address vulnerable firms and for companies critical to fight the virus and its economic impact.
  • Tourism Relief Funding: The Department of Tourism has made an additional R200 million available to assist SMEs in the tourism and hospitality sector who are under particular stress due to the new travel restrictions.
  • Solidarity Response Fund: This was setup to help deal with the fallout of the coronavirus, and measures to slow its spread. Individuals and businesses can contribute to this fund. Johann Rupert and Nicky Oppenheimer have donated R 1 billion each into this newly established Solidarity Fund.
  • Possible temporary reductions: Possible temporary reductions of employer and employee contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund and possible temporary reduction of employer contributions to the Skill Development Fund.

More specific details on the above-mentioned interventions will be released within the next few days:

Our commitment to you:

SA Accounting Academy, Tax Faculty and SAIT have joined forces to prepare technical alerts and webinars at no charge to our stakeholders as soon as the Government regulations and SARS practice notes are released. We are working on securing presenters to host the first live webinar on Monday, 30 March at 15h00. Click here to book for this free webinar.

Ensure that you also follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook to receive all our technical alerts instantly. You can also email your technical questions to

Although we are living in unprecedented times, we want to assure you that SA Accounting Academy will be operating as usual. Our business model supports a virtual-based work environment that enables us to continue servicing our clients during the lockdown period. You will still be able to reach us via email or telephonically if you require any support or have any queries during this time.

For more information you can phone us on 010 593 0466.



Training and development benefits for BEE points

Being BEE compliant will enable a business to obtain better contracts, in addition, it provides credibility for the company.  Training staff members is beneficial for the company.


There are a number of benefits for implementing B-BBEE within a company, but when training has occurred, there are more employable people as training has taken place and staff members have improved their skills competence.  One of the ways a company can improve its B-BBEE scorecard is to implement training, as training and development spend earns 20 points on the BEE scorecard.  In addition to the 20 points, companies are entitled to claim up to 40% on any staff training costs.


The general benefits of training are:

  • Increased job satisfaction and morale among employees.
  • Increased employee motivation.
  • Increased efficiencies in processes, resulting in financial gain.
  • Increased capacity to adopt new technologies and methods.
  • Increased innovation in strategies and products.
  • Reduced employee turnover.
  • Enhanced company image, e.g., conducting ethics training (not a good reason for ethics training!).
  • Risk management, e.g., training about sexual harassment, diversity training.


The following are typical reasons for employee training and development:

  • When a performance appraisal indicates performance improvement is needed.
  • To “benchmark” the status of improvement so far in a performance improvement effort.
  • As part of an overall professional development program.
  • As part of succession planning to help an employee be eligible for a planned change in role in the organization.
  • To “pilot”, or test, the operation of a new performance management system.
  • To train about a specific topic (see below):
    • Communications: The increasing diversity of today’s workforce brings a wide variety of languages and customs.
    • Computer skills: Computer skills are becoming a necessity for conducting administrative and office tasks.
    • Customer service: Increased competition in today’s global marketplace makes it critical that employees understand and meet the needs of customers.
    • Diversity: Diversity training usually includes an explanation about how people have different perspectives and views, and includes techniques to value diversity.
    • Ethics: Today’s society has increasing expectations about corporate social responsibility. Also, today’s diverse workforce brings a wide variety of values and morals to the workplace.
    • Human relations: The increased stresses of today’s workplace can include misunderstandings and conflict. Training can people to get along in the workplace.
    • Quality initiatives: Initiatives such as Total Quality Management, Quality Circles, benchmarking, etc., require basic training about quality concepts, guidelines and standards for quality, etc.
    • Safety: Safety training is critical where working with heavy equipment, hazardous chemicals, repetitive activities, etc., but can also be useful with practical advice for avoiding assaults, etc.
    • Sexual harassment: Sexual harassment training usually includes a careful description of the organization’s policies about sexual harassment, especially about what are inappropriate behaviours.

It is imperative though, to ensure that all training is recorded so that it can easily be submitted for the BEE audit.


How to benefit from training?

Skills development is one of the easiest elements to gain points.  Succeeding in this element will not only assist with the BEE score, but it will also assist the company with the skills that are required as well as potentially reducing unemployment.

  • 8-points can be earned if the company invests 6% of payroll in the training of black people.
  • An additional 4-points can be earned of 0.3% of the total payroll is spent on learning programmes for disabled black employees.
  • By participating in learnerships, apprenticeships or internships a company can claim and additional 4-points if 2.5% of the employees are enrolled on such programmes, and an additional 4 points if 2.5% of the company’s headcount are black unemployed learners.
  • Additional 5-bonus points can be earned if all the unemployed learners are gainfully employed on the conclusion of the learnership.


There are additional benefits under the latest codes that relate to training and development.  These are as follows:

  • The training costs of unemployed learners can be claimed.
  • The salaries of learners enrolled on learnerships, apprenticeships or internships can count towards training expenditure.
  • The cost of the Skills Development Facilitator can be claimed as a training expense.
  • 15% of training spend can consist of internal non-accredited training.
  • There is a R60 000.00 tax-break per participant registered on a learnership.


Therefore, to conclude, there are a number of incentives to train employed and non-employed persons.  There are a number of registered qualifications as well as short learning programmes offered by both the private providers as well as public institutions that can assist in meeting the company’s training needs.  The ICB has a number of registered learnerships that can assist companies in addressing the training and development requirements.






What is a learnership?

A learnership is a work-based learning programme that leads to a qualification that is registered in the National Qualifications Framework.  Learnerships are directly related to an occupation or field of work, for example, bookkeeping or office administration.  The aims of learnerships are to address the challenges of:

  • Decreasing employment;
  • Unequal access to education and training, and employment opportunities;
  • The effects of race, gender and geographical location on educational advancement;
  • and over and above the skills shortages in South Africa.


Who qualifies for a learnership?

Learnerships are available for those who have completed school, college or learning at other training institutions, or for those who are studying part-time.  Unemployed South Africans can participate in a learnership programme if there is an employer who is prepared to provide the required work experience.


What are the benefits of learnerships to employers?

As the learnerships are developed by industry for the industry, and in consultation with all stakeholders, the learning programmes and qualifications linked to these learnerships are relevant to the specific occupation.  When learners partake in a learnership there is a greater credibility of the qualifications as the employer has the assurance that the learners can demonstrate not only theory competence but practical competence as well.


As learnerships combine both practical a theory outcome of a qualification, they provide skilled people who:

  • tend to work more independently, need less supervision and possess enhanced problem-solving capabilities;
  • are motivated and strive to add value to the business;
  • are less likely to leave a company that takes an interest and invests in their personal and professional development;
  • entering into learning contracts with unemployed people contributes to building up the skills pool, from which employers may recruit relevant skills as needed;
  • have more skills. The more skills gained, the greater the productivity and the more meaningful the individual’s contribution to South Africa’s global competitiveness and to creating an environment conducive to investment.


By placing un-employed learners on a learnership, the employer has access to a wider pool of appropriately qualified workers who have developed skills that are relevant to the company’s specific work context.


Furthermore, there is an increased return on investment when implementing training initiatives.  Not only are there BEE benefits, but there are:

  • Higher returns from the Skills Levy and investment in training, due to transfer of learning to the job.
  • Increased grant disbursements from Skills Levy contributions. Many SETAs offer Learnership grants ranging from R 4 000 – R 40 000 per learner. However, the grants are subject to availability and are offered on a first come, first serve basis on the condition that the Learnership address a scarce skill in the sector.
  • Tax Incentives: SARS offers companies attractive tax incentives for participating in Learnerships. Tax Incentives are deductions on your taxable income that you can claim for each Learnership candidate that you have in your employment, once at the start of the Learnership, and once again at its completion.
    • For learnerships entered into after 1 October 2016 but before 1 April 2022:
      • The allowance will depend on the NQF (National Qualification Framework) level of the learnership. For NQF level 1-6, the employer can claim a tax allowance of R40,000 (R60,000 for disability) per year and NQF level 7-10, It can claim a tax allowance of R20,000 (R50,000 for disability) per year.
      • The employer can claim a R40,000 “completion allowance” for NQF level 1-6 (R60,000 for disability) and R20,000 for NQF level 7-10 (R50,000 for disability).
      • If the Learnership exceeds 24 months, then the completion allowance is multiplied by the number of consecutive 12-month periods within the duration of that learnership.


What are the benefits of learnerships for learners?

The following are the benefits of learnerships for learners:

  • Better employment opportunities afterwards;
  • Fixed-term employment contract for the duration of the Learnership;
  • Learnerships improve on the job performance so they are able to do things relevant to the job;
  • A nationally-recognised qualification that is relevant to the sector;
  • Earning a learner allowance for the duration of the Learnership.


What does a learner receive on completion?

During the Learnership, learners will be required to complete assignments, tasks and practical tests and projects. They will be formally assessed in the classroom and the workplace.
If all these assignments are completed successfully, they will be awarded an NQF-registered qualification, which is recognized nationally. They will receive a certificate stating the qualification and the area of skill development.


What is required to enter into a Learnership?

If a learner is accepted, he/she will need to sign two legal documents:

  • Learnership Agreement: this is an agreement signed by the learner, the organisation employing the learner, and the education provider offering the theoretical training component of the Learnership. This agreement clearly outlines the rights and responsibilities of all three parties.
  • Employment contract: this is a contract they will sign with the employer, which is only valid for the time period of the Learnership.


Can a Learnership be terminated?

An employer can terminate the contract of a Learnership if:

  • The duration specified in the Learnership agreement has expired;
  • The employer and learner have agreed in writing to terminate the Learnership agreement, or if there is no such agreement, the SETA that registered the agreement approves the termination; or
  • The learner is fairly dismissed for a reason related to the learner`s conduct or capacity as an employee.


What learnerships are offered through the ICB?

The ICB administers the following learnerships on behalf of Fasset:

  • Junior Bookkeeper Learnership
    1. National Certificate Bookkeeping – NQF 3
    2. Duration – 1 year
    3. Entry requirement – 16-years of age or NQF 2 qualification
  • Senior Bookkeeper Learnership
    1. Further Education and Training Certificate: Bookkeeping – NQF 4
    2. Duration – 1 year
    3. Entry requirement – simultaneous completion of Junior Bookkeeper learnership
  • Technical Financial Accountant Learnership
    1. National Diploma Technical Financial Accounting – NQF 5
    2. Duration – 2 years
    3. Entry requirements – simultaneous completion of the Junior and Senior Bookkeeper learnerships
  • Small Business Financial Management Learnership
    1. National Certificate Small Business Financial Management – NQF 4
    2. Duration – 1 year
    3. Entry requirements – NQF 3 qualification
  • Office Administration Learnership
    1. Certificate Office Administration – NQF 5
    2. Duration – 1 year
    3. Entry requirement – NQF 4 qualification
  • Senior Office Administration Learnership
    1. Higher Certificate Office Administration – NQF 5
    2. Duration – 2 years
    3. Entry requirement – simultaneous completion of Office Administration learnership
  • Public Sector Accounting Learnership
    1. National Certificate Public Sector Accounting – NQF 4
    2. Duration – 1 year
    3. Entry requirement – NQF 3 qualification
  • Technical Public Accountant Learnership
    1. National Diploma Public Sector Accounting – NQF 5
    2. Duration – 1 year
    3. Entry requirement – successful completion of Public Sector Accounting Learnership


Roles and responsibilities

The following are the roles and responsibilities of each party.

  • ICB
    • Marketing of learnerships which are under the auspices of the ICB.
    • Provide guidance and support to employers implementing ICB learnerships.
    • Apply or give advice on recognition of prior learning.
    • Register learners for theory and practical assessments.
    • Accredit theory skills development providers to offer the theory tuition towards the underpinning learnership qualifications.
    • Accredit workplace providers to offer the structured practical component of the learnership.
    • Conduct national theory assessments of the qualifications.
    • Conduct workplace assessment via the means of a detailed portfolio of evidence.
    • Register learners on the National Learner Records Database via Fasset.
    • Administer the award of the registered qualification.


  • SETAs
    • To register learnership agreements.
    • Promote learnerships across all levels and sectors.


  • Learners
    • Enter learnership agreement between the employer and skills development provider.
    • Actively participate in induction programmes.
    • Work for the employer form the duration of the learnership agreement.
    • Register with a skills development provider for the theory component of the learnership qualification.
    • Register with the ICB for the theory and practical assessments associated with the relevant qualification and learnership.
    • To be available for and participate in all theory instruction and structured work experience required for the completion of the learnership.
    • Adhere to all workplace policies and procedures.
    • Complete all documentation associated with the learnership and complete and submit a workplace portfolio of evidence for assessment.


  • Skills Development Provider
    • Ensure that they are accredited by the ICB to offer tuition towards the relevant qualification that underpins the learnership.
    • Ensure that they meet the quality assurance criteria set by the ICB.
    • Provide tuition in line with the outcomes of the modules of the relevant qualifications.
    • Enquire that learners are registered with the ICB for the national assessments.
    • Ensure that they are registered with the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology.


  • Employer as a workplace provider
    • Attain accreditation with the ICB to offer the practical component of the learnership.
    • Appoint a mentor to the learner for the duration of the structured workplace component.
    • Implement a quality management system to manage:
      • Learner induction
      • Learner support
      • Mentoring
      • Performance management
    • Enter learnership agreement with the learner and accredited skills development provider.
    • Enter employment contract with the learner.
    • Comply with all applicable labour legislation.
    • Schedule and provider learner with appropriate training and exposure to the practical outcomes of the learnership as stipulated in the workplace portfolio of evidence available from the ICB.
    • Supervise the learner for the duration of the learnership agreement.
    • Release the learner for training and assessments applicable to the learnership.


In conclusion, learnerships are positive programmes that enhance the education and potential of those entering the workforce.








In August last year, the CIPC introduced a compliance checklist which customers will be required to complete in order to declare the compliance status of their company against specific sections of the Companies Act No.71 of 2008.

This compliance checklist is mandatory as of 1 January 2020 and must be completed before submitting annual returns.

To ensure compliance of the mandatory requirements of the Companies Act such as described in section 15, – requiring every company to have an MOI.

This serves as an educational tool for directors and company secretaries, in guiding them with regards to their responsibilities in terms of the Companies Act.

CIPC will utilise the Checklist to monitor and regulate proper compliance with the Companies Act and if trends of non-compliance appear, to act accordingly.

View the checklist here.

HR Manager’s Column – Episode 4: I got the qualification, what now?

Insider tips from our Head of HR and Training

If you have achieved your ICB qualification, congratulations! But this is only the first step. What are you doing to enhance your employability? When recruiting staff, the employer will look at more than just your qualification, they will be trying to see if you have the required competencies to fulfil the role, and also whether you will be a good fit to the company culture and values, how can you show this?

a. Job shadowing/Volunteer experience: `

We understand not everyone will have working experience straight after studying, but what have you done to gain exposure to the working world during or after your studies? In your CV you should list any job shadowing or volunteer experience you have had.

b. Leadership roles during school:

If you were ever a class representative or prefect in school, list this in your CV too! This says a lot about your leadership ability.

c. Extramural activities:

When you are not working or studying, how do you spend your days? What are you passionate about? Are you a nature-lover or book worm? You can note that too!

d. Any additional courses:

What are you doing to improve your professional development? If you have noticed that your admin skills are not very good, why not do a course to learn new skills? There are many online sites which offer short courses to improve skills, such as Linkedin Learning or Udimy, and this shows employers that you are invested in your own development. If you are also a member of our sister company ICBA, then you will have free access to our webinars which you also help your continuous professional development (CPD). Being a part of a membership body such as the ICBA also shows your credibility to employers so if you are not yet a member, check out the website today!