The main difference between the contract of employment of specified duration and unspecified duration lies not only in the prefixed and indeterminate nature of their respective duration, but also in the methods of their termination. In a contract of employment of unspecified duration, the parties can unilaterally terminate their relationship at any time, this is not the case for a contract of employment of specified duration as in principle the contract must be maintained till the expiry of its prefixed term.
Nevertheless, the general rule regarding the modus operandi of termination of both types of contracts is not absolute. Certain circumstances may arise during the execution of the contract that render the continuation of the labour relation literally impossible. In such situations, the legislator has recognize the fact that the labour relation may be terminated unilaterally or mutually.
TERMINATION OF THE CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT OF SPECIFIED DURATION UPON THE EXPIRATION PERIOD
In principle, the expiry of the specified period puts an end to the labour relations when it concerns contracts of employment of specified duration. There is also no statutory requirement for the parties to give or receive notice of the impending expiration of the term of the contract.
However, though the law does not provide for notice as concerns contracts of employment of specified duration, practical exigencies of modern industrial life require it.
Also, the general rule that a contract of employment of specified duration shall not be unilaterally terminated before the expiry date of the specified period is subject to a number of exceptions dictated by the vicissitudes of economic realities and changes of time.
TERMINATION OF THE CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT OF SPECIFIED DURATION BEFORE THE EXPIRY PERIOD
In certain circumstances the continuation of a labour relation becomes impossible. The parties to the contract may in their own interest write down clauses which recognizes the premature termination of the contract of employment even if it is a contract of specified duration. The circumstances which become exceptions to the general rule under the expiration of a contract of specified duration are as follows;
- Serious Offences: Serious offences like gross misconduct entitles the aggrieved party to terminate the contract of employment summarily. The conduct must be so obvious and reprehensible that it renders the further execution of the contract impossible. This is the case with serious offences orchestrated by a party to the contract.
- Force Majeure: This is also an exception to the expiry on the termination date of the contract of specified duration. Force majeure automatically terminates a contract of employment as it is a manifestation of events not dependent on the will of the parties nor the expiry date principle of a contract of specified duration.
- Mutual Consent: Since the parties are free to choose their own terms, the court generally allow the parties to exercise this freedom to put an end to their contract. Hence the parties can incorporate terms which can permit them to terminate the labour relation by mutual consent.