You And Your Contract Of Employment

Neale Quilliam – Associate

In every relationship of significance, where the parties to the relationship are to be bound by rights, obligations and performance, it is essential that the relationship be determined, controlled and directed by the terms and conditions contained in a formal contract which is to be signed into force by the parties concerned.

An employment relationship is just such a situation where the terms and conditions of that relationship are contained and controlled by important clauses in the contract of employment which govern and dictate the way the relationship is to be conducted.  This contract is the foundation of the relationship between the parties (employee/employer) and is a very important document for the entire duration of the employment relationship.

Should an employer not enter into such a contract with a prospective employee, then the terms and conditions of the relationship fall to be governed by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (as amended) and employees who are employed without a formal contract, may refer to this statute to understand what the terms and conditions of their employment entail, such as the employment conditions, for example; working time; leave entitlement; remuneration and so on.

However, the statute is as its name suggests, “basic,” and it often happens that in employment relationships there are many other issues that may need to be contained in a contract of employment that are not contained in the Act, such as bonus payments, restraints of trade or other benefits that the Act does not detail.  It is therefore essential that all employees ensure that they sign a formal contract of employment when entering into permanent employment with an employer.

There are, of course, a number of ways that people may become employed that do not require a formal contract; casual labour, part-time employment and volunteer work, but when a formal, permanent employment situation arises, then it is crucial that a proper contract of employment is entered into and formally signed and properly completed by all the parties to the employment relationship.  All parties to the relationship must obtain a copy of this contract in case it needs to be referred to in the future.

In essence, the contract of employment structures the relationship where there is the hiring of someone’s personal services/skills in exchange for remuneration in whatever form. It is an agreement between the parties on how the relationship is structured and managed and how the labour potential of the employee is to be put at the disposal of the employer and how that employee is to be rewarded for provision of these services and skills.  It is reciprocal, in that the employee provides service, to the best of his/her ability in a manner and way that the employer requires, as the employee is in a subordinate role, in exchange for a reward and for other benefits that the employer is willing to offer.

Finally, the contract must contain the procedures required when either party chooses to terminate the contract and these procedures are very strictly controlled in law.

The contract of employment contains all of these provisions and it is therefore essential that every employee enters into such a contract and both parties abide by the clauses and conditions contained in that contract.

Join us for our Facebook Live discussion on Friday, 3rd February 2023, to gain further insight into contracts of employment.

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