Legal proceedings, in general, can be a daunting process filled with complex rules, legal language and unfamiliar documents. Employers often receive CCMA or Bargaining Council documents from employees who have lodged a dispute and have no idea what the documents mean or what is required of them in response. As fascinating as it is to deal with legal documents, knowledge and understanding of what to be aware of, upon receipt of such legal documents can ease the tension and confusion.
When an employee has referred a dispute to the CCMA, they must correctly complete an LRA 7.11 referral form setting out the particulars of the dispute. It is important for employers to not merely assume that the employee correctly completed the forms but rather to check for any errors made by the employee. Certain specific errors may even render the referral defective resulting in the CCMA not having the necessary jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Below are the important elements employers must check upon receipt of the 7.11 referral form:
In the event of a dismissal dispute, an employee only has thirty (30) days from the date on which the dismissal arose to open a case. If the case is an unfair labour practice, the employee has ninety (90) days to refer the dispute. The employee has six (6) months to refer the dispute to the CCMA or Bargaining Council in terms of discrimination cases.
If the prescribed number of days to refer a dispute has lapsed, the employee must apply for condonation for the late referral. If the employee has not correctly completed the condonation application, the application can be found to be defective. Knowing what to be aware of in a condonation application will not only assist the employer in determining if the application is defective or not but also if the information provided therein by the employee corresponds with the facts of the case.
The below should be considered upon receipt of a condonation application:
Considering the above, it is imperative that employers thoroughly check any CCMA or Bargaining Council documents received and immediately forward them to CEO to review, possibly oppose and file accordingly. This will ensure that enough time is given to prepare for the matter, and if there are any errors with the referral, CEO can advise or oppose the same.
Article by: Noncedo Nzimande
Legal Assistant – Pretoria