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When it comes to dealing with labour issues, it can be difficult to figure out when you need to go to the CCMA and when you need to go to the Department of Labour (DOL) or the Labour Court. They are separate bodies with different powers over different issues, so you need to make sure you go to the right place to get help. Scorpion Legal Protection explains.
The CCMA is an independent authority that aims to resolve labour issues. It is not controlled by the state, any political party, trade union or business.
Unfair dismissal issues fall under sections 186(1)(a) and 187 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA). Some examples are: the reason for the dismissal is an employee on a fixed-term contract reasonably expected renewal of the contract, which never happened; the employee took part in or supported a legal strike or protest; any reason related to an employee’s pregnancy, unfair discrimination, and more.
This refers to matters covered under section 186(2) of the LRA. Some examples are unfair demotion of an employee, unfair suspension, and failure or refusal by an employer to reinstate or re-employ a former employee in terms of any agreement.
This includes issues where employers refuse to bargain with the relevant bodies and unions.
This is where employers have failed to pay an employee in terms of the BCEA, the NMWA, a contract of employment, a sectoral determination or a collective agreement. Minimum wage is in place for many industries.
This is when an employer makes unilateral, or one-sided, changes to your conditions of employment without consulting you and getting your agreement. For example, changing the number of your working hours or shifts, reducing your pay, transferring you to a different branch. This is covered under section 64(a) of the LRA.
Unfair retrenchments as well as severance pay fall under the jurisdiction of the CCMA. This falls under sections 189 of the LRA and 41 of the BCEA.
The DOL is a government department that deals with issues not covered in the LRA. Some matters can overlap with matters that would go to the CCMA, as described above.
Most rights referred to in the BCEA will be referred to the DOL, although they can also go to the CCMA. This includes disputes related to payment for work done, leave, overtime (and pay for overtime), lunch breaks, night work allowances and contracts of employment. If your salary is above the BCEA threshold, you can go directly to the Labour Courts.
The DOL deals with EEA issues, except for discrimination (which is dealt with by the CCMA). Labour inspectors can enter, question and inspect the employer’s premises and issue compliance certificates for issues like consulting with employees, conducting an analysis, preparing an employment equity plan and more.
This includes any issues relating to the right to a safe working environment and reporting incidents to the DOL. It also deals with claims for injury or death from the Compensation Fund.
This includes UIF claims, complaints and areas that require compliance, for example, an employer deducting UIF from workers’ salaries but then not paying this money over to the UIF.
* This is only basic advice and cannot be relied on solely. The information is correct at the time of being sent to publishing.
Date added: 1 June 2021