The CCMA is a statutory body which was set up by the Labour Relations Act. The CCMA rules has been structured to enable the parties to use the CCMA effectively. These rules are to be interpreted and applied in a spirit that will enhance and facilitate the work of the Commission. In essence, these rules have to be administered in a fair and structured manner and they must be used to make it easier for the parties to both approach and to implement labour peace. The CCMA rules are contained in the Labour Relations Act and must be carefully read and implemented by every single user of the CCMA. It is no excuse to state that you are a lay person as anyone who wishes to use the CCMA must have a working knowledge of the rules and regulations.
Firstly, one must understand what forms have to be filled in, how they should be filled in and where they must be sent. The Registrar of the CCMA Western Cape is at 78 Darling Street, Cape Town, 8001 on telephone number (021) 469-0111 and telefax number (021) 465-7193/7. The Registrar expects an applicant to fully complete LRA form 7.11. The completion of this form marks the start of the proceedings. This form must be properly served on the Respondent (Employer). Although the CCMA is not a Court, it has the authority and power to ensure that the CCMA rules are properly followed and implemented. The CCMA must attempt to resolve any disputes referred to in terms of the Labour Relations Act, firstly through Conciliation and thereafter, the Arbitration. The CCMA’s other functions including the establishment of workplace forums, to try and facilitate and to publish information and statistics about its own activities.
Often the CCMA assists any party to a dispute to obtain legal advice, assistance or representation. The CCMA has an advisory function regarding the procedure to be followed in terms of the LRA. In certain instances, and upon request, the CCMA may provide employees, employers, trade unions and employers’ organisations training. This training could be with regard to collective bargaining structures, workplace forums and the prevention and resolution of disputes.
The CCMA’s offices are open every workday, Monday to Friday, from 08h30 to 16h30. The documents referred to above can only be filed during those working hours. Documents may be faxed to the CCMA and this constitutes proper service. The offices are not open on public holidays as defined in the Public Holidays Act.
The referral of a dispute in the allegation of an alleged unfair dismissal must take place within 30 days after the commission of the dispute. This is calculated on the basis of the first day to be excluded and the last day to be included. The computation of the number of days is calculated by all seven days of the week being counted. If the last day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or Public Holiday, or on a day during the period 16 December to 7 January, then that last day is excluded and the period is extended to the next day that does not fall on a Saturday, Sunday or a Public Holiday.
Definition of ‘day’
In terms of the definition of ‘day’ in the CCMA Rules a ‘day’ is calculated as a working day and is defined as:
“any day excluding Saturday, Sunday, public holiday and the days in the period from 16 December to 7 January, both days inclusive; when any particular number of days is prescribed for the doing of any act, the number of days must be calculated by excluding the first day and including the last day, unless the last day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, public holiday or on a day during the period 16 December to 7 January, in which event the number of days must be calculated to exclude the first day and also such last day”.
The definition of ‘day’ in the Act is different to that in the CCMA Rules. A ‘day’ in the Act means a calendar day, as opposed to a working day. It is important to bear this in mind when calculating the 30-day referral period for conciliation and the 90-day referral period for arbitration.
The Act does not define ‘day’ which means that one has to refer to S4 of the Interpretation Act of 1957. In terms of S4 of this Act all days including weekends and public holidays are counted, and days are counted by excluding the first day and including the last day.