Employment Contract Termination

While it may seem like an obvious and simple aspect of employment law, many employers find themselves at the CCMA for unfair dismissal or unfair labour practice because the employment contract termination was not done properly.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act sets out what the minimum notice period is in this regard:

  1. One week, if the employee has been employed for 6 months or less;
  2. Two weeks if the employee has been employed for more than 6 months but less than 12 months; and
  3. One month if the employee has been employed for more than 12 months.
The employment contract should always specify what the notice period is.

The above periods may be extended by agreement, but they may not be reduced.  The notice period applicable to the employer must be the same as the notice period applicable to the employee.

Notice of termination should always be given in writing unless the employee is illiterate.  Even an employee subject to probation is entitled to a proper notice of termination.

Employers should also caution against assuming an employee has resigned from work, purely because that employee has not returned to work.  The necessary procedural steps should be followed to call the employee for a disciplinary hearing before any notice of termination is issued. A disciplinary hearing should always precede any summary dismissal.

For assistance with, or advice on, termination of an employment contract or your other labour law needs, please contact our Labour Law specialist, Claire Delport on claire@fouriestott.co.za or 031 266 2530.