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Can a fixed-term employee reasonably expect permanent employment?

by , 02 March 2016
With the introduction of relevant amendments in 2015, the arena of fixed-term contracts has become a whole lot trickier. And one mistake could very easily see a case of unfair dismissal being made against you.

One of the concerning areas in this regard has to be the whole 'reasonable expectation of renewal' rule.

It basically states that if you don't renew a contract when an employee 'reasonably' expects you to, it can amount to unfair dismissal. This is of course provided that she can prove this so-called 'reasonable expectation'.

A 'reasonable expectation' can range from things you promise or even imply to the employee, to simply what the Court deems 'reasonable'.

Now, all of the above refers to an expectation of RENEWAL, but many employers have been raising questions regarding an expectation of 'permanent employment'.

In other words, can an employee reasonably expect this?

Let's take a look...


Are your fixed-term contracts in line with the new LRA?
If you use fixed–term contracts in your workplace, you need to make sure they're in line with the new Labour Relations Amendment Act which came into effect on 1 April 2015.
If you don't know how to implement and manage fixed-term and temporary contracts you could land up with an unfair labour practice case on your hands!
Click here for more details…
Can an employee reasonably expect to have permanent employment?

To be frank, it's not crystal clear as to what'll happen if an employee has an expectation of permanent employment.

This is because the case law has been somewhat divided on the matter.

BUT it's important to note that the law ONLY says that employees can reasonably expect a RENEWAL of the SAME terms and conditions of the fixed-term contract, and so it would only make sense to say that an employee CAN'T expect permanent employment.

So what does this mean for you?

At the end of the day, what would help you the most is to simply not put yourself in a position that could even hint at an expectation of renewal.

By doing so, any expectation of permanent employment will also disappear.

To learn of 10 items which can create an expectation of renewal, page over to chapter F 01 in your Practical Guide to Human Resources Management, or click here to order yours today. 

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