The COVID-19 pandemic will doubtless lead to many new developments on the legal front.
For example, with widespread employee retrenchment now an unfortunate reality in our struggling economy, all employers, employees and trade unions should know of an important new Labour Court decision validating the use of remote conferencing for the retrenchment consultation process.
The consultation process, rudely interrupted
Our “new normal”
“With the advent of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the “new normal” presented itself” (extract from Labour Court judgment)
Commenting on the irony of the union complaining about “the efficacy and reliability” of Zoom whilst using it to make its own urgent application to court, and noting that the facilitator, with “powers to make a final and binding ruling on procedure”, was not averse to using Zoom for the meeting, the Court found that the union had refused to participate in the consultation process through no fault of the employer’s.
As the Court put it: “With the new normal – lockdown period during Covid-19 pandemic – zoom is the appropriate form in which meetings can take place. What is involved in this period is the health and safety issue … It is a necessary tool to ensure that restrictions like social distancing as a measure to avoid the spread of the virus are observed.”
Accordingly there was no procedural unfairness and the union’s application was dismissed.
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