The reasonable expectation for a further contract is something that is often present in fixed-term contract cases. The case of National Tertiary Education Union obo Prigge and another / Durban University of Technology – (2018)27 CCMA 7.1.21 also reported at [2018] 10 BALR 1062 (CCMA) deals with this principle.

The employees were junior lecturers in a number of fixed-term contract positions in the Video Technology Department for a period of time until the university decided not to renew their final contracts. The employer concluded that the employees could not have reasonably expected further employment because they had been informed that their posts had been advertised and they lacked minimum requirement for full-time employment as lecturers.

The legal questions before the Commissioner for the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) was whether the employees had a subjective expectation that their contracts would be renewed and, if so, whether that expectation was reasonable.

The Commissioner found that the employees had always known that they would not be appointed on a permanent contract until they acquired a masters degree. They also knew that the university was looking for qualified employees.

There was also a valid reason for concluding a fixed-term contract with the employees as an interim measure. The employees had, accordingly, failed to prove that they had been dismissed and that an unreasonable expectation had been created.

The application was dismissed.

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