30 JULY 2020
ATTENTION: MEDIA HOUSES, CCMA USERS, STRATEGIC PARTNERS AND STAKEHOLDERS
SUBJECT: 30 JULY 2020 DIRECTIVE ON THE CCMA’S OPERATIONS DURING THE COVID – 19 PANDEMIC
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected operations at the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), as it has many public and private organisations in South Africa and all over the world. In the interest of the health and safety of the CCMA staff and users, in cases where positive cases were confirmed at the CCMA premises, the affected CCMA facility was closed for disinfection. Over the past weeks, this has resulted in intermittent closures of several CCMA offices nationwide, which in certain instances, has affected users negatively and caused much disruption.
Whilst the CCMA had put stringent occupational health and safety measures in place to safeguard CCMA since the emergence of the Covid – 19 pandemic, the rampant spread of the Covid-19 virus compels the CCMA to institute even more stringent measures, in anticipation of the peak of the Covid – 19 curve as reports suggest. Whilst the CCMA acknowledges the importance of ensuring access to its services and expeditious dispute resolution in order to maintain labour market stability during the Covid-19 period, as a safety measure in the interest of the health, safety and lives of CCMA staff and users, the CCMA issued a directive dated 30 July 2020 regarding CCMA operations during the Covid – 19.
The 30 July 2020 directive comes into effect on 01 August 2020, and must be read together with the Rules for the Conduct of Proceedings before the CCMA, as amended. The 30 July 2020 directive sets out how, and under what conditions, matters enrolled before the CCMA will be dealt with, including related interventions and services available to its users during the Covid-19 nationwide lockdown. In summary, the 30 July 2020 directive prescribes that:
i. Unless directed otherwise by the CCMA, Parties are not permitted to visit any of the CCMA offices for purposes of making enquiries, submitting or collecting referral forms, or dropping off referrals and other related documents.
ii. Parties may refer their disputes or make referrals via electronic mail (hereinafter referred to as “e-mail”), facsimile, registered mail, or the CCMA’s online referral platform, which allows for applications for conciliation and arbitration hearings and applications for condonation of the late application of alleged unfair dismissal, alleged unfair labour practice and alleged unfair discrimination disputes. No walk – in referrals will be accepted.
iii. The use of hearing venues within CCMA offices will be minimised and at the discretion of the CCMA. Cases and processes that have been scheduled to be heard at CCMA venues will remain so, unless directed otherwise by the relevant Provincial office of the CCMA.
iv. As of 01 August 2020, the resolution of disputes that have not already been scheduled to be heard at a CCMA venue, in order of preference, will be undertaken through one of the following: a digital online platform that is to the satisfaction of the CCMA or the Commissioner; or at a suitable external venue (such as the employer’s premises); or at a CCMA office as the last resort.
v. In addition, preference may be given for conciliation hearings to take place telephonically.
vi. Where Parties do not agree to have a dispute, other than conciliation of rights-based disputes where telephonic conciliation may be preferred, heard through a digital online platform or at a suitable external venue (such as the employer’s premises), the reasons for such non-agreement must be submitted to the CCMA in writing. The CCMA will then decide on the appropriate means through which the hearing or facilitation will proceed.
vii. For usage of online digital platforms, the extent to which both Parties have access to online digital platforms and the financial means to purchase sufficient data.
viii. For usage of external venues, the extent to which both Parties are able to physically access the venue, the suitability of the venue in terms of health and safety requirements, and any other reasonable factor that may be directly related to the dispute at hand.
The directive dated 30 July 2020 serves to amend the directives regulating access to the CCMA issued on 8 May 2020 and 14 May 2020 respectively. The 30 July 2020 directive upholds all Covid-19 Regulations as issued in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, and is issued in terms of the authority vested in the Director of the CCMA in terms of section 118(2) (b) of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995, as amended (hereinafter referred to as the “LRA”). The health and safety of CCMA staff and users remain a priority during this time. This CCMA wishes everyone well during this trying time.
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