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fixed-term contract

This week, Ivan Israelstam explains how an employer can inadvertently guarantee an employee further employment - even though their contract states that it is a temporary period of employment. He explains the dangers to employers, who attempt to avoid their labour law obligations, by manipulating employment contracts, for example with fixed term contracts.

Employers may believe that by using a fixed-term contract, they will avoid having to permanently employ a person. However, this week Ivan Israelstam explains how an employer can inadvertently guarantee a temporary employee a reasonable expectation of further employment.

Where the job itself is permanent it is dangerous to employ staff on anything but a permanent contract. This is firstly because the Labour Relations Act provides for fixed-term employees to have a reasonable expectation of renewal of their contracts at the expiry date. Secondly, case law has gradually narrowed those circumstances under which an employment agreement can legitimately be accepted as a limited duration contract.

Ivan Israelstam

Employers sometimes think that employing a person on a fixed-term contract will save the company any obligations in terms of labour law. Under employment equity legislation and codes, there are already implications for employing people on long term contracts in what are permanent positions. This week Ivan Israelstam explains the implications of a Labour Court decision, which finds the employer did not have a right to terminate a fixed-term contract before the end of the term.  

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