Notice period: 4 weeks or calendar month?
Employers and employees have different interpretations when it comes to the notice period to terminate the employment relationship.
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) stipulates that an employment contract may be terminated on notice of not less then four weeks if the employee has been with the employer for one year or longer.
It is interesting to note that it does not stipulate that notice should be a month or calendar month’s notice. For this reason employers usually regulate the notice period in the employment contract.
The BCEA defines a “month” as a “calendar month”. Despite this, you still have to consider the interpretation of the term by looking at the context of employment contract as a whole.
Does the phrase mean:
- Any 30-day period, with the result that the employee may give notice on any day of the month. The notice period will then terminate in 30 days’ time.
- The beginning of any given month to the end of the same month. Thus, employees must give notice on the first day of the month and the notice period will continue until the last day of the month. Accordingly, when an employee gives notice on any day of the month, the notice period will only commence on the first day of the following month and will continue until the last day of the same month.
It is important that the employer clearly qualify and define the termination notice period in the employment contract. Employers can do this by using the word “calendar” and referring to other provisions. These provisions include payment of remuneration and benefits such as pension and medical aid contributions on a “monthly basis”.
By explicitly using the qualifier word of “calendar” in the termination clause would be a significant indicator to anyone interpreting the notice period that the parties clearly intended a different meaning to be given to the term “calendar month” then the term month.
Contact the LWO at 086 110 1828 for more information and/or assistance in this matter.
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