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commission for conciliation mediation and arbitration

How should arbitrators come to their decision in matters put before them at the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). What factors should they take into account? Are the arbitrators obliged to explain their decision, and provide reasons for their decision? Does PAJA - the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act cover matters at the CCMA? This week Ivan Israelstam covers all these questions.

This week Ivan Israelstam explains that labour law does allow an employer to dismiss an employee.  However, labour law expertise is required to ensure that the dismissal is both procedurally and substantively fair. Employers cannot simply to decide to dismiss an employee on the word of an external party - without following any internal procedures. 

Ivan Israelstam

Many employers will be able to relate to the situation of being infurirated by employee behaviour. However, as Ivan Israelstam explains this week, it is very dangerous for an employer to react emotionally and overstate the allegation of misconduct - by alleging dereliction of duty. This term has a very specific legal meaning and therefore at the CCMA the employer will have the responsibility for proving that the misconduct was a deliberate and intentional action by the employee.

Employers are sometimes disappointed and angry that a CCMA arbitration award has gone against them. This week Ivan Israelstam explains why this sometimes occurs, and what the standards are that CCMA Commissioners must meet. Ivan explains how this helps an employer deciding whether they should challenge the award.

This week Ivan Israelstam says: "without proof your case goes poof!" Arguing your case vehemently but without any substantiating evidence will not win your case - no matter how good your debating skills. What is required to win your case at a CCMA or bargaining council arbitration is evidence. Ivan explains that evidence may be presented via witnesses, documents, video, or recordings, and outlines the process at arbitration.

To avoid performance management procedures of instruction, counselling, training, and coaching some employers have utilised the "retrenchment pool" concept. Into this "pool" they place individuals they want to be rid of - for whatever arbitrary reason. However, employers using such tactics are warned that this method has every chance of backfiring. This week Ivan Israelstam explains the consequences - and type of financial penalty - of trying to circumvent good management practice.

Employers may be surprised to find that there are costs that may accrue when they fail to follow correct disciplinary procedures in dismissing employees. There may be Conflict Dispute Resolution Centre - attached to Bargaining Councils (CDR) or Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) costs. This week Ivan Israelstam explains what the potential costs are when employers fail to follow the requirements for dismissing employees for a fair reason and following a fair procedure.

When a CCMA notice of an arbitration hearing arrives in a busy Human Resources department, there is a very real possibility that it does not receive the full attention that it deserves. The failure of an employer to attend an arbitration hearing at the CCMA without very good reason may be a very expensive error of judgement. This week Ivan Israelstam explains the grounds the Labour Court will accept for overturning an arbitration award.

Ivan Israelstam

This week Ivan Israelstam explains what happened to employers who tried to avoid the requirements of the section on probation in the Code of Good Practice on Dismissal. Pretending an employee is on a fixed term contract - or an independent contractor - will cause just as much trouble at the CCMA. So the best practice is to provide the counselling, guidance or training that a probationary employee requires.

Employers who hold senior positions in multi-national and national organisations may hold an arrogant belief that the CCMA Commissioner will believe their testimony against that of a junior employee. Ivan Israelstam explains why this approach could lead to the company losing the arbitration.

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