How the CCMA Helps to Resolve Labour Disputes in South Africa
CCMA stands for the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration. The CCMA is specific to South Africa and acts as an independent body without any links to political parties or corporate entities. As such, the CCMA is able to provide an objective platform for labour dispute resolution, training, and guidance on labour practices and relations.
CCMA offices are located throughout South Africa, and should you have a labour dispute, you can either make use of the online facility to download relevant documents or visit your nearest CCMA office to collect the forms to be completed. Complaints, claims, and requests must be completed using the correct forms. The main goal of the authority is to protect the rights of all parties involved in the dispute.
The functions of the CCMA specifically as related to employer/employee disputes include conciliation to help resolve disputes, and arbitration where the CCMA acts as an objective third party. The CCMA also determines dispute resolution fees and makes the rules regarding the processes and documentation for dispute resolution when using the CCMA.
Unlike what many business owners believe, the CCMA is not merely a dispute resolution body and should not be seen as the enemy. Yes, the CCMA in South Africa may rule in favour of the disgruntled employee, but it can also rule in favour of the employer. As an independent body focussed on the protection of the employer, employee, employer organisation, and trade union rights, the CCMA also offers guidance and training to employers regarding aspects such as prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, following of disciplinary procedures, setting up workplace forums, and creating collective bargaining bodies. Employers are encouraged to make use of the various training programmes in order to prevent non-compliance with labour laws.
When a dispute is raised, whether by the employee, trade union, employer, or employer organisation, the CCMA in South Africa appoints a commissioner to the specific case. The commissioner is responsible for resolving of the dispute within 30 days. A conciliation plan is put in place, which includes mediation, information collection, and the recommendation of a workable solution. The commissioner must also provide a certificate to each of the parties following the outcome of the dispute to indicate the status of the dispute resolution.
As one of the two forms of dispute resolution, the commissioner meets with the parties involved in the dispute and seeks appropriate means for settling the dispute through an agreement. It is an informal meeting and as such, the parties may only be represented before the CCMA in person, or by a representative that is registered with the employer organisation or the trade union. The employer may be represented by an employee, office bearer, or director.
The commissioner can decide to hold separate meetings with the parties or require both parties to share their information in a combined meeting. The parties are asked for suggestions on how to solve the dispute, while the commissioner may also give recommendations. The commissioner has the right to have documents subpoenaed, and can also inspect the specific workplace and collect documents or objects needed at the premises which are relevant to the particular dispute. Upon successful dispute resolution, an agreement is drafted, and a certificate is issued to indicate the settlement of the dispute.
Should conciliation efforts fail, then one of the parties may request resolving of the issue through arbitration. A hearing is held where the commissioner presides over the matter. The parties state their information about the dispute and the commissioner gives a ruling. It is called an arbitration award and is a legally binding decision.
If a party is not satisfied with the arbitration award of the CCMA commissioner, then the party can make use of the Labour Court, as relevant, where the assistance of a qualified labour attorney is recommended. Note that a lawyer can also represent a party at the CCMA arbitration hearing, unless it is a dismissal issue. In the latter instance, the commissioner and the other party must consent to it.
Contact us at email@example.com or on (011) 234 2125 for representation at a CCMA arbitration hearing or legal representation at the Labour Court in South Africa.
NB: This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You are advised to consult with us before using/relying on this information.