This is certainly not an advert for a popular motor vehicle, nor to popularise the recent upsurge of the use of the Zoom video communication/conferencing application.
In fact, Zoom as a virtual communication platform preceded the outbreak of Covid-19. Yet despite it's existence before the onset of the pandemic, Zoom meetings are only now becoming “a thing” in the employment sphere.
As we are now all realising and experiencing daily, the means of communication between employers and employees are taking on a new form. We are living in unprecedented times and the new normal seems to have slowly settled into our employment relationships.
Employers, employees, trade unions and dispute resolution forums such as the CCMA, Bargaining Councils and the Labour Court have had to catch up with the times by swiftly introducing platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams as a means of communication, or as a platform for the adjudication of disputes.
In fact, the Labour Court recently held that a retrenchment exercise in terms of section 189 or 189A of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 (‘”LRA”) may be conducted via Zoom or some other form of video conferencing.
In terms of the LRA, a dismissal must be procedurally and substantively fair. The Court found that there was no procedural unfairness by conducting retrenchment consultations through the use of Zoom. This form of consultation accords with the new normal and has been found to be fair.
Due to the current circumstances and the unfortunate increase of Covid-19 cases, this decision will have a far-reaching impact on retrenchment exercises and will provide justification for the use of technological platforms such as Zoom, whenever it is reasonably practicable to do so.
That said, the convenience of Zoom and many other similar virtual communication platforms, have enabled businesses to continue running in the midst of the current turmoil - and they have also provided what is now regarded as an acceptable platform to allow for the expeditious resolution of disputes in the above-mentioned forums.