26 May

When you officially get employed, the first thing that you are supposed to receive is your employment contract which serves as an official legal document that binds you and your employer to the terms and conditions of your employment. Unfortunately, many workers do not receive it at the time they are employed, nor often fully understand their contracts of employment as well as the type of employment that they are categorised under in a company.

In today’s blog, UASA has prepared a few significant classifications of employment that one needs to understand before signing his/her contract of employment.

Permanent Employee – a permanent employee is someone who is employed with the intention of an ongoing employment relationship. The contract is usually for an indefinite period.

Temporary Employee – a temporary employee is employed in terms of a fixed-term contract of employment, either for a specific period or for a specific project. These can be seasonal workers, replacement workers, or employees engaged for a specific operational requirement.

Full-Time Employee – a full-time employee works for one employer five or six days a week – they do not work for another employer as they are fully employed by one employer.

Part-time – a part-time employee may only work a part of his or her time for the employer, for example, a few days per week.

Probation – Probation is generally accepted that an employer may expect an employee to serve a probationary period. During this initial period at the beginning of the worker’s service, skills and abilities are assessed. The job of a probationary employee is potentially more secure than that of a temporary employee.

What is a lawful termination of the employment contract?

It is important to distinguish between a lawful termination of the employment contract and a fair termination of the contract. In essence, a lawful termination means either that the terms and provisions of the contract relating to the giving of notice have been complied with, or that the contract was summarily terminated on the grounds of a fundamental mal-performance of a duty.

If either party summarily terminates the contract of employment on the grounds of breach of contract, the breach of contract must indeed have been serious. If the breach is not serious enough to justify termination, the subsequent termination will be unlawful.

No reason needs are given in the case of termination on notice in terms of the common law. The common law does not concern itself with the reason for the termination of employment. As long as the contractual or statutory provisions relating to notice have been complied with, the requirements of the common law are satisfied and the termination is regarded as being lawful.

While the concept of fairness has its origin in the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the SA Constitution, in terms of the provisions of the LRA; a dismissal (termination of the employment by the employer) must be fair. This means that the dismissal must comply with certain substantive and procedural requirements. Even though dismissal may be lawful (in compliance with the law and the contract itself), this does not mean that it will necessarily be fair.

UASA encourages employees to clearly understand their contracts of employment as well as the LRA. This will assist workers in terms of fair labour practice in the workplace and protecting themselves against unfair treatment in the workplace.

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