New Directive on Access to the CCMA during COVID-19 Pandemic

On 30 July the CCMA issued a new directive on access to the CCMA during the COVID-19 pandemic which came into effect on 01 August 2020.

This Directive serves to amend the Directives regulating access to the CCMA that were issued by the CCMA Director on 08 May 2020 and to repeal the subsequent Directive that was issued by the CCMA Director on 14 May 2020.

This Directive, read together with the CCMA Rules, set out how, and under what conditions, matters enrolled in the CCMA will be dealt with until such Directives are repealed

Important to note are the following:

Clause 4: Referring Disputes to the CCMA

Parties are not permitted to visit any CCMA for the purpose of making enquiries, submitting or collecting referral forms or dropping off forms and related documents.

Parties are required to submit forms by electronic means as permitted by Rule 7 (e.g. facsimile or e-mail) or are encouraged to make use of the CCMA’s online portal which may be accessed at the following link: https://cmsonline.ccma.org.za/

Parties wishing to track the progress of their cases are encouraged to download the free-to-use #CCMAConnect App for this purpose.

Clause 5: Conciliation Hearings and Facilitation of Large-Scale Retrenchment Disputes (Section 189A of the LRA)

As of 01 August 2020, the use of hearing venues within CCMA offices will be minimised and at the discretion of the Commission.

Conciliations may take place through one of the following means, in order of preference: by telephone; or through a digital online platform that is to the satisfaction of the CCMA or the Commissioner; or at a suitable external venue2 (e.g. the employer’s premises); or at a CCMA office.

Parties to the facilitation of a large-scale retrenchment process are required to attempt to reach consensus on the means through which the facilitation process will proceed, in order of preference: through a digital online platform or at a suitable external venue (e.g. the employer’s premises).

Clause 7: Arbitration Proceedings and Inquiries by Arbitrators

Prior to scheduling Arbitration hearings, and subject to Rule 20, the Parties may be directed to hold a pre-arbitration conference to reach consensus on those issues listed in Rule 20(3), and inter alia the following:

1. Whether the Parties are prepared to proceed with the arbitration hearing by means of a video conferencing facility.

2. Whether the Parties are prepared to proceed with the arbitration hearing at a suitable external venue (e.g. the employer’s premises).

Clause 10: Protocols to be followed in video conference hearings

Amongst other requirements, participants are to ensure no ambient noise in the room which may interfere with the audio quality and are to mute their microphones when not speaking.

The Commissioner may give additional ad hoc directives.