When it comes to arbitration, the CCMA has to give the parties (you and your employee) at least three weeks' (21 calendar days) notice of the date.
If the notice given is shorter than this and you can't prepare in time, you can point this out to the CCMA. You can request that it set an alternative date.
Since the CCMA rules deal specifically with the issue of postponements, you can ask that it postpone the arbitration.
The big question is: How do you go about doing this?
Well, there are two ways you can postpone arbitration:
Let's look at these in more detail.
Use these two ways to postpone an arbitration hearing
#1: Postponing by agreement
The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service explains that postponing by agreement is where both parties agree to postpone the arbitration date.
If you receive a notice of arbitration from the CCMA and you can't attend on that day, the easiest and most effective way to postpone it is to phone your employee or his representative. Explain why you can't be there and ask him to agree to postpone the arbitration.
It's important you're open with your employee or his representative. Give him an honest and genuine reason why you can't attend.
If you agree to postpone the arbitration, do so in writing. Sign a postponement agreement and then deliver the agreement to the CCMA.
Make sure you deliver the agreement to the CCMA seven days before the scheduled arbitration hearing; otherwise it'll not be accepted by the CCMA.
#2: Postponing by application on notice
If your employee won't agree to postpone the arbitration, you'll need to bring an application for postponement on notice.
This means you must notify all other parties in the matter. The notice of application must be supported by an affidavit which includes the material facts that support your application for postponement.
As with all other applications, your employee can oppose your application for a postponement and you can reply to his opposition.
For example, you've arranged to travel to Rome on business and your flights, accommodation and business appointments have already been confirmed. Attach all these details to your application for postponement so the CCMA can see that you've got a valid reason to postpone.
Keep in mind that the same principles apply if your employee asks you for a postponement. You can either agree or, if you don't, then he must bring an application for postponement that you can oppose.
'Look carefully at the reasons for the requested postponement. If they're valid and you think there's a strong chance the CCMA will grant the postponement, it may be better to agree. It'll save you time and money,' advises the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.
Well there you have it. If the arbitration date doesn't suit you, use these two techniques to ask for a postponement.