Temporary Employees – The 2015 Landscape

Temporary Employees - The 2015 Landscape

By Judith Griessel, Griessel Consulting

The Labour Relations Amendment Act came into operation on 1 January 2015 and places significant restrictions on the use of ‘non-standard’ employees, including fixed term and part time contracts. Employers would be amiss if they do not take note and adapt their employment policies and practices accordingly.

A limited duration (fixed-term) contract is one entered into for a temporary period. It terminates due to effluxion of time on:

the occurrence of a specified event;
the completion of a specified task or project;
a fixed date (other than normal/agreed retirement age).
There are a number of risks for employers associated with making use of temporary employment. Some of these risks always existed, however specific statutory protection has now been added in respect of certain categories of employees.

Short term gain long term pain: Probation disguised as a fixed term contract

How does one get rid of an employee who does not meet the employer’s expectations? The idea of a fixed-term contract might seem a good solution. You merely inform the employee that the fixed-term contract has expired. However, this approach is flawed as indicated below.

It is not an uncommon practice for an employer to appoint someone for a fixed term of, say, three months, and then to make the appointment permanent if the employee has shown his or her mettle during that specific period. If the person does not meet the required performance standards or does not fit in with the business, the employer would merely inform the employee that the fixed-term contract has expired.