Referring a Dispute

Referring a Dispute to the CCMA

If you are an employee in dispute with your employer, or vice versa, over a matter such as-

  • dismissal,
  • wages and working conditions,
  • workplace changes, or
  • discrimination.

You may want to ask the CCMA to conciliate or even arbitrate your dispute. A union or employer's organisation may also initiate this action. You do not need the other party's consent before taking a matter to the CCMA. 

Note: The following disputes cannot be referred to the CCMA-

  • where the complainant against the employer party is an independent contractor,
  • where the dispute does not deal with an issue arising from the Labour Relations Act (the LRA); the National Minimum Wages Act (the NMWA); the Employment Equity Act (the EEA); or the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (the BCEA). Disputes that arise in terms of the BCEA may be referred to the CCMA together with unfair dismissal disputes or unfair retrenchment disputes. 
  • If a bargaining council or statutory council exists for the sector in which that employer operates. In that case the dispute, other than unfair discrimination disputes, has to be referred to that bargaining council. 
  • where a private agreement exists between the parties regulating how their disputes should be resolved, for example: by private arbitration. In that case the parties in dispute have to follow the dispute resolution procedures that are contained in that private agreement (exceptions may apply, e.g. if the employer is expecting the employee to pay for the private dispute resolution). 

Steps for disputes at the CCMA

Step 1: If you have a labour problem, it is very important that you take steps immediately. In the case of an unfair dismissal dispute, you have only 30 days from the date on which the dispute arose to open a case, if the case is an unfair labour practice, you have only 90 days and, with discrimination cases, you have six months.

Step 2
: If you have decided to lodge a dispute, you need to complete a CCMA case referral form (also known as  LRA Form 7.11.). These forms are available from the CCMA offices, Department of Employment and Labour and the CCMA website. (

Step 3: Once you have completed the form, you need to ensure that a copy is delivered to the other party and you must be able to prove that a copy was sent. Acceptable methods include faxing a copy (keep the fax transmission slip), sending it by registered mail (keep the postal receipt), send it by courier (keep proof) or deliver in person (ask the person receiving it to sign for it).

Step 4: You do not have to bring the referral form to the CCMA in person. You may also fax the form or post it. Make sure that a copy of the proof that the form had been served on the other party is also enclosed.

Step 5: The CCMA will inform both parties as to the date, time and venue of the first hearing.

Step 6
: Usually the first meeting is called conciliation. Only the parties, trade union or employers' organisation representatives (if a party to the dispute is a member) and the CCMA commissioner will attend. The purpose of the hearing is to reach an agreement acceptable to both parties. Legal representation is not allowed.

Step 7: If no agreement is reached, the commissioner will issue a certificate to that effect. Depending on the nature of the dispute, the case may be referred to the CCMA for arbitration or the Labour Court as the next step.

Step 8: In order to have an arbitration hearing, you have to complete a request for arbitration form, (also known as LRA Form 7.13.). A copy must be served on the other party (same as in step 3). Arbitration should be applied for within three months from the date on which the commissioner issued the certificate.

Step 9: Arbitration is a more formal process and evidence, including witnesses and documents, may be necessary to prove your case. Parties may cross-examine each other. Legal representation may be allowed. The commissioner will make a final and binding decision, called an arbitration award, within 14 days.

Step 10: If a party does not comply with the arbitration award, it may be made an order of the Labour Court.


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Refering aReferring a Dispute to the CCMA for Conciliation

Necessary form for referring a dispute to the CCMA for conciliation

File size 215 K
Downloads 18457
Date Mon 04/15/2019 @ 10:59
Author CCMA
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