If you have been unfairly suspended or dismissed; are in a dispute with your employer over working conditions, wages, workplace changes; or have experienced discrimination, sexual harassment or violence at the workplace, you may approach the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The CCMA is an independent dispute resolution body established in terms of the Labour Relations Act (LRA).
If the dispute concerns an unfair dismissal, you must approach the CCMA within 30 days from when the dispute arose. If the dispute concerns an unfair labour practice or discrimination, however, you have 90 days and 6 months respectively to lodge the dispute. You do not need the other party’s consent before bringing the matter to the CCMA and no lawyers are required. A union or employers’ organisation may also initiate this action.
In order to lodge a dispute, you need to complete a case referral form (LRA Form 7.11). These forms are available from the CCMA offices, Department of Labour and the CCMA website (click on the link below). A copy of the completed form must be delivered to the other party by fax, registered mail, courier or in person. A copy must also be delivered to the CCMA with the other party’s proof of receipt. The CCMA will then contact the parties and inform them of the date, time and venue of the hearing.
The first meeting is usually conciliation where the parties are led by a Commissioner in an attempt to settle the matter. No legal representation is allowed at this stage. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the matter will go to mediation where the Commissioner plays a more active role in trying to resolve the dispute.
If the parties are still unable to resolve the dispute, the matter may be referred to the CCMA for arbitration. Arbitration proceedings are more formal and parties are allowed legal representation. Evidence is also permitted and the parties and witnesses may be cross-examined. The Commissioner will make a final and binding decision, called an arbitration award, within 14 days after the date of the hearing. If a party does not comply with the arbitration award, it may be made an order of the Labour Court.
Please note that disputes involving independent contractors, disputes where a bargaining or statutory council exists for that sector, disputes where a private agreement exists for their resolution (e.g. private arbitration) and cases that do not deal with an issue in the LRA or Employment Equity Act cannot be referred to the CCMA.
For more information on the CCMA, click here http://www.ccma.org.za
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