Unfair dismissal? Your rights during business rescue

Facing dismissal after years of service can be tough, but what happens when the company goes into business rescue before you can challenge the decision? Find out if you can still refer your unfair dismissal dispute to the CCMA in our latest article.

The Companies Act 71 of 2008 places a moratorium on legal proceedings against companies undergoing business rescue. In terms thereof, no legal proceeding may be commenced or proceeded within any forum against a company which has entered into business rescue proceedings, except amongst other exceptions, with the written consent of the business rescue practitioner, or leave of the court. Without the necessary consent or leave, a party must await the conclusion of the business rescue proceedings before it may institute legal action. 

Notably, the moratorium also freezes all time frames which must be complied with when seeking relief.

In labour disputes, no legal action may be taken against an employer who is undergoing business rescue in any forum, be it a bargaining council, the CCMA, or the Labour Courts, without the business rescue practitioner’s written consent or leave of the court. 

Once the employer has entered into business rescue proceedings, a new dispute can be referred to the bargaining councils or the CCMA, however, it cannot be set down for conciliation and/or arbitration until such time that the business rescue proceedings have been concluded. 

The moratorium similarly freezes any prescribed time frames within which referrals must be made to the CCMA, which means that the time falling within the duration of the business rescue proceedings will not be counted for purposes of ascertaining the jurisdiction of the bargaining council or CCMA.

In instances where the business rescue proceedings have not been finalised within three months of commencement, the appointed business rescue practitioner must publish monthly updates. It is imperative to keep up to date with these to ensure that the necessary action is taken as soon as permissible. 

The inevitable consequence is that, in the absence of obtaining consent from the business rescue practitioner to proceed with legal action, it can be a protracted and expensive exercise to apply to court to obtain leave to proceed with legal action. Apart from having various negative ramifications on unfairly dismissed employees, this on its own is not in accordance with the spirit of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 which requires the speedy and efficient resolution of labour disputes.

Disclaimer: This article is the personal opinion/view of the author(s) and is not necessarily that of the firm. The content is provided for information only and should not be seen as an exact or complete exposition of the law. Accordingly, no reliance should be placed on the content for any reason whatsoever and no action should be taken on the basis thereof unless its application and accuracy has been confirmed by a legal advisor. The firm and author(s) cannot be held liable for any prejudice or damage resulting from action taken on the basis of this content without further written confirmation by the author(s). 

June 6, 2024
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