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In Labour News by Pieter21 Comments

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, applicable Bargaining Council Agreement or Sectoral Determination).

Note: These snippets of information are based on frequently asked questions and will be circulated to subscribers on a regular basis. Labourwise subscribers are invited to submit questions on matters that they believe would be of general interest to employers.

Disclaimer: The material above is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Neither the author nor the publisher accepts responsibility for any loss or damage that may arise from reliance on information contained in this article.


  1. Can annual leave run concurrent with sick leave in other words can you go off sick and immediately after sick is complete,take annual leave?

    1. Reply to Desmond: An employer may not require an employee to take annual leave when the employee falls ill (unless the employee is already on annual leave when he falls ill). If the employee has been ill, he cannot not simply take annual leave thereafter – he has to apply and the employer has to authorise it.

  2. i have been worked as community liaison officer to build the school,the project was eighteen months,then the project completed within six months.will i still entitle to receive the amount stipulated in the original contract?

  3. sir/mam iam employed as a security guard for almost 15 years in service, in the security agency, and filed a voluntary resignation.I don’t know if I have or claimed a separation pay,please help me, i have no idea, thanks

    1. Reply to Danilo: Severance pay can only be claimed if you are retrenched. In the case of a resignation there is no severance pay due.

  4. Dear Sir/Madam
    I was contracted via a Employment agency for a client in a Supervisory Position. The contract I signed has no end date and neither is the notice period contained in the contract stipulated except to say “reasonable notice”.

    I resumed work on the 17/10/ and informed that I would be working ± 4Months
    Working literally 7 days a work from 8Am to 7Pm since starting with a excepion of a funeral I had to attend and taking a saturday to assist my parents with shopping as they are pensioners. I was told not to bother coming in the Sunday as well after informing my manager.

    My contract stipulates 7Am to 4Pm
    Although working 10Hours daily I was only paid overtime after a Period of 45Hrs was worked even though the client closed at 16:00 on Friday and could decide at anytime when we should finish work. We worked on Saturday and Sunday as well from 08:30 to 16:00, so if I had a day off in the weekly cycle the Saturday was not paid as overtime.
    Is this ethical or legal as set out in the terms of the Basic conditions of employment act regarding overtime pay?

    I fell sick and was off work the entire week and due to lack of finances and the knowledge of my illness used medication I had used previously and did not go to the Doctor, however I notified my manager via e-mail and telephonic noification that I will return to work on Monday.

    Today 09\12 I returned to work and was told my contract has ended signed a form of acknowledgment as requested by the admin lady on behalf of the angency and that was that.

    Is this ethical or legal as set out in the terms of the Basic conditions of employment act regarding termination of employment contract?
    Thanking You

    1. Reply to Russell: Your queries are too extensive to address via this blog. We suggest that you approach a labour lawyer, the CCMA or nearest branch of the Department of Labour.

  5. Hi there. We employed a receptionist on a 3 day training/assessment period. On the 3rd day she was advised that the employment would not continue, and that she is not suitable, but we could use her to answer the phones whilst we interview. She agreed. On Friday we gave her a 24 hour notice and paid her for today as well. She is now about to take us to the ccma, and are making rediculous claims like we told her to work for free etc, and that our cleaner would be taking her place, she has taken no note of who works here, because the cleaner she is referring to has been in employment for over two years, and is a logistical assistant. What can be done to stop this employee from wasting our time at the ccma with false claims?

    1. Response to Marie-Ann: It depends very much on what the agreement was – was it specific that she would be employed for 3 days (and do you have it in writing? She could possibly argue that you employed her indefinitely, subject to a probationary period of 3 days during which her performance would be evaluated for the purposes of permanent employment. If this is the case, then the guidelines in Schedule 8 of the LRA pertaining to probation would apply. There is probably more facts surrounding the matter that we are not aware of. We therefore propose that you contact us (or another labour law specialist) to discuss your options

  6. Good day. I am working under a temp employment contract, which has an end date stipulated as 31st Oct. My employer has not mentioned a thing to me about renewing it. Do I just take my things on the 31st Oct and not return on the 1st Nov? That is how I see it as of 16:30 on the 31st Oct my employment ends.

    1. Response to Mike: If 31 October is stipulated as your last day and there has been no further communication in this regard, then it obviously means your contract will come to an end on that day. However, I suggest that you communicate with the employer to confirm that this is indeed their understanding.

  7. Good morning,

    I have a temporary employee (driver) working for me for 1 month now. He’s performance is sub-standard, he does not follow instructions, etc. In short, he is not suitable for the position. However, on the Letter of Appointment I gave him, I only stipulated “Temporary contract and that daily evaluations will be conducted, should performance be sub-standard, employment will be terminated immediately”. I did not include on the letter the period he will be appointed for (1 or 2 or 3 months). What am I to do now in order to terminate his employment fairly?

    1. Response to Suné: If there is no justifiable reason for a fixed term contract and no date has been stipulated, it would be regarded as an indefinite appointment. If the employee is unable to perform to the required standards, the normal poor work performance procedures would have to be followed before the employee’s services can be terminated (See guidelines issued in terms of the Labour Relations Act) .

  8. Goeie dag. Hierdie is nogal baie insiggewind. Ek wil net weet of iemand my dalk kan help waar dit neerkom op ‘n persoon se aftree ouderdom. ‘n Kontrak lui slegs dat aftree ouderdom is 55jr. Wat is die situasie wanneer daardie ouderdom bereik word?
    Ek hoor graag van u
    Baie dankie

    1. Antwoord op Marie se vraag: Die persoon moet verkieslik vooraf herinner word dat hy/sy die ooreengekome aftrede gaan bereik en dat die diensverhouding op daardie dag (of aan die einde van die maand wat aftreeouderdom bereik word) tot ‘n einde sal kom.

  9. Can a Fixed Term Employment Contract be regarded as “Temporary Employment Contract”?

    1. Author

      Yes, generally they are considered the same type of contract. It is an employment contract for a specific period with no expectation of employment beyond a specific date. You can have a look in our articles section for articles related to this topic.

  10. Thanks for this info, however, what are the legal ramifications (from an employer’s point of view) when a temporary/contract worker absconds and then expects payment for days worked AFTER he’s been paid?

    1. If the employee absconds before the agreed termination date, it amounts to a breach of contract. In principle the employer could institute a claim for damages suffered, but in practice it may not be worthwhile and difficult to prove. At the very least you would not be obliged to pay the employee for the remainder of the contact (“no work, no pay”).

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