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Three clauses you MUST include in your employee's fixed-term contract

by , 11 June 2013
If you think you have fewer legal obligations when it comes to temporary or fixed-term employees, you're wrong. Make sure you have a contract with them and that it's clear to avoid unfair dismissal accusations at the CCMA. Read on to discover three clauses you should include in employees' fixed-term contract to ensure you have a water-tight agreement...

It's crucial that you have a concise employment contract with all your temporary and fixed-term employees. 'This will ensure you don't create expectations of permanent employment when this isn't what you had in mind,' says The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

For you to do this, make sure you have these three clauses in your temporary employment contracts, cautions the Loose Leaf.

Include these three clauses in your employees' temporary contract

Clause #1: Clearly state that the period of employment is for a certain number of weeks or months only. This way, you're not creating an expectation of employment once the contract is over.

For example, let's says your receptionist goes on maternity leave for four months and you hire Ms Jones to replace her. You appoint Ms Jones on a fixed-term contract for four months. You must state clearly that she's being hired to fill in while your receptionist is on maternity leave. State that Ms Jones agrees she has no expectation of employment after the four months are complete.

Clause #2: Include a clause stating the contractor will be employed 'until the task for which you are employed has been completed'. If you need the employee to carry out a specific task, or if you don't know the exact date when the task or project will end, use this clause instead. This will eliminate any expectation of continued employment from your fixed-term employee.

For instance, if you get a special contract to supply 1 000 extra widgets to one of your customers, you'll need extra people to produce these, but won't be able to pinpoint exactly how long it'll take to fill the order.

By having this clause in place, you can terminate employment when the project is complete.

Clause #3: Even if you're hiring for a fixed-term, you may want to reserve the right to end the contract early. For example, if the employee commits an act of misconduct.

So include a clause in the employment contract stating that you and your temporary employee agree his services can be terminated before the end of the fixed term agreement for good reason. Include issues like operational reasons, poor performance and misconduct.

You must also avoid renewing a temporary contract. That's because your employee could refer a case of unfair dismissal against you if you don't renew his contract, especially if you've renewed it in the past. He could expect you to renew his fixed-term contract based on the same terms because you've done so before, or you created an expectation.

Remember to only use fixed-term contracts only when you really need to. Not because you think this will give you fewer responsibilities towards employees.

By putting these clauses in your employee's fixed-term contact, you'll have a water tight agreement.

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