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COVID-19 and proceedings before the CCMA in South Africa

18 March 2020
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At the time of preparing this newsflash, there are 116 reported cases of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.

In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, and with due regard to the measures announced by the South African Government, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) issued an urgent directive on 17 March 2020. This directive applies with immediate effect until 14 April 2020.

In terms of the directive, face-to-face contact at the CCMA is restricted and all matters set down at the CCMA between 18 March and 14 April 2020 are postponed. However:

  • pre-conciliations continue, because they take place by telephone;
  • conciliations may be conducted by telephone, but only if it is agreed to by the parties, the CCMA and the commissioner;
  • commissioners may attempt to resolve disputes using telephonic or online methods prescribed and approved by the CCMA; and
  • in the case of large-scale retrenchment processes regulated by section 189A of the Labour Relations Act, pre-dismissal arbitrations in terms of section 188A, and matters identified as being of public interest, the CCMA may approve that these matters are heard at venues other than at the CCMA offices. The parties, the CCMA and the commissioner must, however, agree in writing to the alternative venue, and all the prescribed health and safety conditions must be adhered to.

Access to the CCMA for the purpose of referring a matter, serving any legal process or making an enquiry is strictly prohibited. The CCMA will only accept the filing of dispute referrals through non-contact methods, such as email or fax.

While the CCMA directive permits commissioners to attempt to resolve disputes by telephone or other electronic means, commissioners still remain bound by the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, which requires, among various other things, that they should conduct proceedings fairly, diligently and in an even-handed manner.

You can access a copy of the CCMA directive here.