A Quick Guide on How to Avoid CCMA

Just found yourself on the wrong side of the Labour Relations Act? Lost a CCMA case against an employee and now you’re been forced to pay your employee 12 months’ salary as his/her award? Does it feel like you’ve just been taken to the cleaners? Glorified as an ATM for nothing, once your employee has been awarded compensation, he/she can have the Sheriff attach your property and sell it in execution if you don’t pay. That’s right. Unfortunately, too many businesses today don’t think twice before dismissing an employee and as a result they end up paying big, but not because the employee was right and they were wrong to dismiss them, but rather because the employer never followed the correct procedure.

The CCMA Deals With Over 10 000 Cases Each Year

Founded on the principle of conciliating first before arbitrating, the CCMA is an independent body established by law to carry out a range of workplace dispute preventions and resolutions. Employees at all levels are often aware that, for little or no cost, they can bring a case against an employer who has treated them unfairly. In fact, in addition to the thousands of cases handled by the Labour Court, Labour Appeal Court, bargaining councils and private arbitration forums – the CCMA deals with over 10 000 cases relating to unfair labour practice each year. The reality is that any employer can end up in the CCMA.

Know the Code of Good Practice on Dismissals

Out of all the workplace disputes such as demotion, discrimination, illness/injury or incompatibility, poor performance, pregnancy, probation, promotion, provision of benefits, retrenchments, sexual harassment, suspension, takeovers and mergers, training, victimisation, warnings and whistle-blowing, most of the CCMA cases are dismissal related. Not only are the figures high, but this is where employers come off short.

Always Follow Procedure and Keep a Paper Trail

Let’s say your employee took home a phone or laptop, without asking permission. You fire your employee the next day for being guilty of misconduct. I mean it seems right. An employee steals and you fire them, right? While you may think theft is pretty much an open and shut case, it’s not as straightforward as you think, especially where the CCMA in concerned. Did you have a disciplinary hearing allowing the employee a chance to explain and defend his/her case? Did you notify your employee of the rules and regulations about not taking company equipment home? Is it in writing? Whether the position is temporary or whether a formal contract was signed or not, the employer needs to satisfy a number of requirements before an employee can be dismissed. And if there is no paper trail to prove that they have followed the process accordingly, businesses can find themselves paying up to 12 months’ salary.

Dealing with misconduct, poor performance and a whole host of other labour related issues that often turn into dismissal often results in impulsive decision making, which in turn results in costly legal consequences. To avoid a trip to CCMA, it is always best to obtain advice from a labour law expert in assessing any form of workplace dispute before decisions are made and action is taken. Furthermore, should you find yourself at the CCMA unexpectedly; labour law experts can assist you in preparing for the arbitration hearing.

For more information on our labour law consultation services and rates – contact us at or on 011 234 2125 today.


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.

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