Terminating a contract of temporary employment

Question: Must an employer give notice of termination of the services of an employee who has been employed on a temporary basis?

Answer: Where the termination/end date has been stipulated, no notice is required. Where the temporary contract is project bound and the end date is uncertain, then notice is required.

Brief explanation: A temporary contract of employment may be entered into where the person is employed for a purpose that is of a temporary nature. In some situations a termination date should be stipulated (e.g. where the employee fills in for someone on maternity leave). This may be regarded as advance notice of termination of employment and it is not necessary to give notice again. While there may be no legal requirement to give formal notice of termination in these circumstances, it is a matter of courtesy for the employer to remind the employee of the forthcoming termination date.

On the other hand, there are situations where the end date is uncertain (e.g. a project of which the duration can only be estimated) and it may be inappropriate to specify an end date. In these situations reference should be made to the fact that the duration of employment is linked to the completion of the project or the specific task for which the employee has been employed.

For the sake of clarity the contract should define what exactly would signify the end of the project or task. When it becomes apparent that the project or task is nearing its end, notice should given in terms of the contract of employment (subject to section 37 of the BCEA, (Basic Conditions of Employment Act)  applicable Bargaining Council Agreement or Sectoral Determination).

Article written by Jan Truter of www.labourwise.co.za

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