The notice period for termination of employment is regulated by clause 7 of the Main Collective Agreement of the Motor Industry. It basically provides that in the case of weekly paid employees, one week notice must be given and in the case of monthly paid employees, two weeks’ notice must be given. This is however subject to any agreement between employer and employee, so the parties can agree to a longer notice period (e.g. one month) to that stipulated in the Main Collective Agreement. Further, the notice can be given on any work day.
It appears that the standard practice in the workplace is to give one months’ notice. However problems arise as to whether notice must be given on the 1st day of the month or whether notice can be given on any day of the month.
In SA Music Rights Organisation Ltd v Mphatsoe (2009) 30 ILJ 2482 (LC), the court held that in circumstances where the parties had used the term ‘month’ and ‘calendar month’ with some frequency, this was an indication that some significance ought to be attached to the distinction.
In Morgan v Central University of Technology, Free State (2013) 34 ILJ 938 (LC), the court held that in circumstances where an applicant was entitled to 3 months’ notice of termination, a calendar month ought to be given its ordinary grammatical meaning, namely a period beginning on the first day of a particular month and ending on the last day of the same month.
What is critical is that the meaning of the terms are interpreted in the context of the employment contract as a whole. – What was the intention of the parties?
The difficulty is that if notice is not tendered in the correct manner, the employee could face a damages claim for breach of contract.
In a nutshell, employees intending to resign should ensure that notice of resignation is tendered in the proper manner. When in doubt, seek clarity from HR or management as this would save you a lot of heartache and unnecessary frustration.
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