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PER: Potchefstroomse Elektroniese Regsblad

On-line version ISSN 1727-3781


GELDENHUYS, J. The Effect of Changing Public Policy on the Automatic Termination of Fixed-Term Employment Contracts in South Africa. PER [online]. 2017, vol.20, n.1, pp.1-56. ISSN 1727-3781.

A fixed-term contract terminates automatically by expiry after a particular period, upon completion of a project, or the occurrence of an event. The use of conditional employment arrangements is accepted as a commercial reality. Awareness of the potential for the abuse of "automatic termination" clauses in employment contracts as a mechanism for termination is increasing. Recent case law on the issue indicates that public policy, which serves as the test for the 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 evidentiary burden than before on employers who opt to rely on "automatic termination" clauses to sustain an argument in favour of their validity and/or enforcement.

Keywords : Automatic termination; automatic termination" clauses; contracting out of statutory protection; contractual waiver of rights; fixed-term contract"; public policy; public interest; non-standard" employees; resolutive conditions; temporary employment services; termination by operation of law; validity and enforceability of contractual devices.

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