The changing public policy and automatic termination of fixed-term employment contracts in South Africa

  • Judith Geldenhuys UNISA
Keywords: automatic termination, , contractual waiver or rights, public policy, public interest, temporary employment services, contracting out of statutory protection

Abstract

Automatic termination is an accepted means of terminating fixed-term employment relationships. The use of "automatic termination" clauses in employment contracts has become commonplace. Awareness of the potential for abuse of these contractual mechanisms is increasing. Recent case law on the issue indicates that the public policy, which serves as test for validity and/or enforceability of "automatic termination" clauses has changed. The impetus for the protection of "non-standard" or atypical employees is underscored by policy considerations that have been incorporated by the recent legislative amendments. These developments may very well place a heavier burden than before on employers who opt to rely on "automatic termination" clauses to sustain an argument in favour or their validity and/ or enforcement.

 

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Author Biography

Judith Geldenhuys, UNISA
LLB, LLM (UP), LLD (UNISA). Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mercantile Law, UNISA, South Africa.

References

10 Bibliography


1 Legislation

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997

Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Act 20 of 2013

Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978

Employment Rights Act of 1996

Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995

Labour Relations Amendment Act 6 of 2014

Unemployment Contribution Act 4 of 2002

Unemployment Insurance Act 63 of 2001


2 Case law

Abdullah v Kouga Municipality 2012 5 BLLR 425 (LC)

Ackrow v Northern Province Development Corporation 1998 BLLR 916 (LC)

Administrator Transvaal v Traub 1989 4 SA 729 (A)

April v Workforce Group Holdings (Pty) Limited t/a The Workforce Group 2005 26 ILJ 2224 (CCMA)

Assign Services (Pty) Ltd v CCMA 2015 11 BLLR 1160 (LC)

Avex Air (Pty) Ltd v Borough of Vryheid 1973 1 SA 617 AD

Barkhuizen v Napier 2007 5 SA 323 (CC) 2007 7 BCLR 691

Basson v Chilwan 1993 3 SA 742 (A)

Benning v Union Government (Minister of Finance) 1914 AD 29

Bonino v De Lange 1906 TS 120

Bottger v Ben Nomoyi Film & Video CC 1997 2 LLD 102 (CCMA)
Brisley v Drotsky 2002 4 SA 1 (SCA)

British Leyland (UK) Ltd v Ashraf 1978 IRLR 930 (EAT)

Buthelezi v Municipal Demarcation Board 2004 25 ILJ 2317 (LAC)

Casely NO v Minister of Defence 1973 1 SA 630 (A)

Chokwe and Phetha Professional Services CC 2010 31 ILJ 3041 (CCMA)

Commercial Union Assurance Co of South Africa Ltd v KwaZulu Finance and Investment Corporation 1995 3 SA 751 (A)

Council for Scientific & Industrial Research v Fijen 1996 17 ILJ 18 (A)

Dladla v On-Time Labour Hire CC 2006 27 ILJ 216 (BCA)

Fedlife Assurance Ltd v Wolfaardt 2001 12 BLLR 1301 (A)

Gibbons v Cape Divisional Council 1928 CPD 198

Hlatswayo and KwaDukuza Municipality 2012 33 ILJ 2721 (BCA)

Igbo v Johnson Matthey Chemicals Ltd 1986 IRLR 215 (CA)

Incorporated General Insurances Ltd v Shooter t/a Shooter’s Fisheries 1987 (1) SA 842 (A)

Kelly Industrial Ltd v CCMA 2015 36 ILJ 1877 (LC)

Khumalo v Supercare Cleaning 2000 8 BALR 892 (CCMA)

Kynoch Feeds (Pty) Ltd v CCMA 1998 19 ILJ 836 (LC)

Mafihla v Govan Mbeki Municipality 2005 26 ILJ 257 (LC)

Mahlamu v CCMA 2011 32 ILJ 1122 (LC)

Maritz v Cash Towing CC 2002 23 ILJ 1083 (CCMA)

Masetlha v President of the Republic of South Africa 2008 1 SA 566 (CC)

Meyers v Abrahamson 1952 3 SA 121 (C)

Morgan v Central University of Technology, Free State 2013 1 BLLR 52 (LC)

Motshalibane and Fischer Tube Technic (Pty) Ltd 2004 25 ILJ 1793 (BCA)

Mphirime and Value Logistics Ltd 2015 36 ILJ 2433 (BCA)
Murray v Minister of Defence 2008 29 ILJ 1369 (SCA)

Nakin v MEC, Department of Education, Eastern Cape Province 2008 29 ILJ 1426 (E)

Napier v Barkhuizen 2006 4 SA 1 (SCA)

National Union of Leather Workers v Barnard and Perry NNO 2001 9 BLLR 1002 (LAC)

National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa v Abancedisi Labour Services CC 2012 11 BLLR 1123 (LAC)

Ndaba v Board of Trustees, Norwood Pre-school 1996 17 ILJ 504 (Tk)

NEHAWU v University of Cape Town 2003 24 ILJ 95 (CC)

Nkopane v Independent Electoral Commission 2007 28 ILJ 670 (LC)

NULAW v Barnard NO 2001 9 BLLR 1002 (LAC)

Ouwehand v Hout Bay Fishing Industries 2004 25 ILJ 731 (LC)

Paiges v Van Ryn Gold Mines Estates 1920 AD 600

Pecton Outsourcing Solutions CC and Pillemer B NO 2016 37 ILJ 693 (LC)

PG Group (Pty) Ltd v Mbambo NO 2005 1 BLLR 71 (LC)

Potgieter v George Municipality 2011 32 ILJ 104 (WCC)

Reddy v Siemens Telecommunication (Pty) Ltd 2007 2 SA 486 (SCA)

Roffey v Catterall, Edwards & Goudre (Pty) Ltd 1977 4 SA 494 (N)

Sasfin (Pty) Ltd v Beukes 1989 1 SA 1 (A)

Schierhout v Minister of Justice 1925 AD 417

Sidumo v Rustenburg Platinum Mines Ltd 2007 12 BLLR 1097 (CC)

Sindane v Prestige Cleaning Services 2010 31 ILJ 733 (LC)

Smith v American International School of Johannesburg 1999 15 ILJ 817 (IC)

Solidarity obo Van Niekerk v Denel (Pty) Ltd (Denel Dynamics) 2012 10 BLLR 1030 (LC)
SA Breweries Ltd v Food & Allied Workers Union 1990 1 SA 92 (A)

SACCAWU obo Makubalo v Pro-Cut Fruit & Veg 2002 5 BALR 543 (CCMA)

South African Post Office v Mampeule 2009 30 ILJ 664 (LC)

South African Post Office v Mampeule 2010 31 ILJ 2051 (LAC)

SATAWU obo Dube v Fidelity Supercare Cleaning Services Group (Pty) Ltd 2015 36 ILJ 1923 (LC)

Springbok Trading (Pty) Ltd v Zondani 2004 25 ILJ 1681 (LAC)

Stokes v Fish Hoek Municipality 1966 4 SA 421 (C)

Sunshine Records (Pty) Ltd v Frohling 1990 4 SA 782 (A)

The New Reclamation Group (Pty) Ltd v Neil Davies and West Rand Scrap (Pty) Ltd 2014 ZAGPJHC 63

Twoline Trading 413 (Pty) Ltd t/a Skosana Contract Labour v Abram Mongatane 2014 JOL 31668 (LC)

University of Pretoria v CCMA 2012 33 ILJ 183 (LAC)

Wells v South African Aluminite Company 1927 AD 69

Zero Model Management (Pty) Ltd v Barnard 2009 ZAWCHC 232


3 Government publications

GN 629 in GG No. 37921 18 August 2014

4 Literature

Aletter and Van Eck 2016 SA Merc LJ
Aletter, Candice and Van Eck, Stefan “Employment agencies: Are South Africa’s recent legislative amendments compliant with the International Labour Organisation’s standards?” SA Merc LJ (2016) Vol 28 No 2 285

Benjamin 2013 Sector Working Paper
Benjamin, P “Law and practice of private employment agency work in South Africa” Sector Working Paper No 292, International Labour Office, Geneva 2013

Bhana, Bonthuys and Nortje Student’s Guide to the Law of Contract
Bhana, D, Bonthuys, E and Nortje, M Student’s Guide to the Law of Contract 4th ed (Juta 2015)

Bhorat and Cheadle 2009 DPRU Working Paper
Bhorat, Haroon and Cheadle, Halton “Labour Reform in South Africa and a synthesis of policy suggestions” DPRU Working Paper 09/139 September 2009

Bosch 2008 ILJ
Bosch, Craig “Contract as a barrier to ‘dismissal’: the plight of the labour broker’s employee”’ 2008 29 ILJ 813

Brassey and Cheadle 1983 ILJ
Brassey, MSM and Cheadle, H “Labour Relations Amendment Act 51 of 1982” 1983 ILJ 31

Brassey Commentary on the Labour Relations Act
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Christie and Bradfield Christie’s The Law of Contract in SA
Christie, RH and Bradfield, GB Christie’s The Law of Contract in South Africa 6th ed (LexisNexis South Africa 2011)

Cohen and Moodley 2012 PELJ
Cohen, T and Moodley, L “Achieving ‘decent work’ in South Africa?” 2012 15 PELJ 320

Forere 2016 SA Merc LJ
Forere, Malebakeng Agnes “From exclusion to labour security: to what extent does section 198 of the Labour Relations Act of 2014 strike a balance between employers and employees?” 2016 SA Merc Law J Vol 28 No. 3 375

Gericke 2011 PELJ
Gericke, SB “A new look at the old problem of a reasonable expectation: The reasonableness of repeated renewals of fixed-term contracts as opposed to indefinite employment” PELJ 2011 (14) 1

Grogan 2015 Employment Law Journal
Grogan, J “Let the ‘deemed’ be damned Section 198A(3)(b) deconstructed” 2015 December Employment Law 4

Grogan Workplace Law
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Hutchison and Pretorius Law of Contract in SA
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Le Roux 2012 Contemporary Labour Law
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Olivier 1996 ILJ
Olivier, M “Legal Constraints on the Termination of Fixed-term Contracts of Employment: An Enquiry into Recent Developments” 1996 17 Industrial Law Journal 1005

Theron 2003 ILJ
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Scheepers 2015
Scheepers, Johann “Regulation of ‘non-standard’ or ‘A-typical employment’ – South Africa” (July 5, 2015) http://www.linkedin.com/pulse/regulation-non-standard-a-typical-employment-south-scheepers (date of use: 12/12/2016)

Tshoose and Tsweledi 2014 Law, Democracy and Development
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Van der Merwe et al Contract General Principles
Van der Merwe, Van Huyssteen, Reinecke and Lubbe Contract General Principles 4th ed (Juta 2012)

Van Eck 2012 International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations
Van Eck, S “Employment agencies: International norms and developments in South Africa” (2012) 28 International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations 29

Van Eck 2013 De Jure
Van Eck “Regulated flexibility and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill of 2012” (2013) 46 De Jure 600

Van Eck 2014 International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations
Van Eck, Stefan “Revisiting agency work in Namibia and South Africa: Any lessons from decent work agenda and flexicurity approach?” (2014) International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations 4930

Van Jaarsveld 2003 SA Merc LJ
Van Jaarsveld M “The validity of a restraint of trade clause in an employment contract” 2003 15 SA Merc LJ 326

Van Niekerk, Smit, Christianson et al Law @ work
Van Niekerk, A, Smit, N, Christianson, M, Van Eck, S Law @ work 3rd ed (LexisNexis 2015)


5 Electronic sources

Memorandum of Objects of the Labour Relations Bill 2012
Department of Labour “Memorandum of the Objects Labour Relations Bill 2012” accessed at http://www.labour.gov.za/DOL/downloads/legislation/bills/proposed-amendment-bills/memoofobjectslra.pdf (date of use: 07/12/2016)

Statistics South Africa Quarterly Labour Force Survey
Statistics South Africa “Quarterly Labour Force Survey Quarter 3, 2016” accessed at http://www.statssa.gov.za/ (date of use: 07/12/2016)



6 International instruments

ILO Convention 158 of 1982 on the Termination of Employment
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2017-06-29
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