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How do you know if you need to give a temporary employee notice of termination? Here's how...

by , 14 July 2015
At some point, you'll probably hire someone on a temporary basis. It might be an intern, or even a freelancer.

And then , you might not know if you have to give notice of termination. The answer's simple...

If the employee's contract includes a termination or end date, you don't have to give notice. If the contract is for a specific project and you don't have a specific end date, then you have to give notice.

Read on for more insight into this matter.

What is a temporary contract?

Sometimes you take on an employee for a temporary position. He then enters a temporary contract. For example:
·         You want to give a student the opportunity to intern at your firm; or
·         You need someone to fill in for your PA while she's on maternity leave.
In some cases, notice of termination is necessary. In others, it's not. There are no legal requirements on this. But here's what's ethical…

When is it necessary to stipulate a termination date in a temporary contract?

It's necessary to stipulate a termination date in some temporary contracts, but not all.
For example, it's necessary to make the termination date clear for someone who's filling in for someone on maternity leave. You can regard this date as advance notice of termination of employment. Due to this, it's unnecessary to give notice again.
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There's no legal requirement to give formal notice of termination in these circumstances. It's just a matter of courtesy for you as the employer to remind the employee of the upcoming termination date. You can simply send him an email a week before his last day as a reminder. Or, casually mention it in a meeting. Rather communicate too much than too little!
On the other hand, there are situations where the end date is uncertain. For example, when you have a freelancer working on a project for you. In this case, you can only estimate the duration of that project. So, it might be inappropriate to specify the end date.
In these circumstances, make this clear to the employee. Explain to him that his termination date is associated with completion of the project. Define this in his contract too.
When it becomes apparent that the project is nearing its end, give the employee notice in terms of the contract of employment (subject to Section 37 of the BCEA, applicable Bargaining Council Agreement of Sectoral Determination).

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