How to Avoid the Infamous CCMA Headquarters

Lost a CCMA case against an employee and now you’re forced to pay your worker 24 months’ salary? Not glorified as an “ATM” for nothing, once they have awarded your employee compensation, they can have the sheriff attach your property and sell it in execution if you don’t pay.

Today, many businesses 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 because the employer never followed the correct procedure.

The CCMA deals with over 100,000 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 prevention and resolutions. Due to word of mouth, employees at all levels know of the fact that, for little or no cost, they can bring a case against an employer who has treated them unfairly. In fact, besides the thousands of cases handled by the Labour Court, Labour Appeal Court, bargaining councils and private arbitration forums, the CCMA deals with over 100,000 cases relating to unfair labour practice each year. Any employer can end up in CCMA headquarters. Here’s how to avoid CCMA headquarters:

Know the code of good practice on dismissals

Out of all workplace disputes, such as a demotion, discrimination, illness, injury, poor performance, probation, retrenchment, sexual harassment, suspension, victimisation and whistle-blowing, 82% of CCMA cases relate to unfair dismissal. Whether it was theft, discrimination or harassment, the CCMA doesn’t care why you dismissed the staff member, the only thing the CCMA cares about is whether you dismissed them fairly.

Always follow procedure and keep a paper trail

Let’s say the employee took a laptop without permission and you dismiss them the very next day. While you may think theft is an open and shut case, it’s not as straightforward as you think, especially where the CCMA in concerned. First, did you have a disciplinary hearing, allowing the employee to explain and defend their case, and did you notify the employee of the rules about not taking company equipment home? Is it in writing and did your employee sign the document? Whether the position is temporary or permanent, the employer needs to satisfy several requirements before they can dismiss an employee. And if there is no paper trail to prove that they have followed the procedures set out by the LRA, a business can pay up to 24 months’ salary or more in compensation.

Dealing with misconduct, poor performance, and many other labour related issues that often turn into dismissal often results in impulsive decision making, which results in costly legal consequences.

To avoid a trip to CCMA headquarters, it is always best to get advice from a labour law expert to assess any form of workplace dispute before you take action. Should you find yourself at CCMA headquarters unexpectedly; labour law experts can assist you in preparing for the arbitration hearing.