Many South African employers employ full time workers on contract basis to reduce their benefit obligations and to have it be easier to fire them.

My own mother has been working for UNISA on contract basis for 15 years.

Are you entitled to just simply decide not to renew the contract. No resigning. No leave period. You simply do the last day of work like your contract stipulates and then you are never heard or seen again?

  • Even with my faulty terminology I still think this is an entirely reasonable question not deserving 4 downvotes
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 18:51
  • 3
    @NeilMeyer There certainly is a reasonable question here - I suspect the more "rant like" elements were factoring in to the poor response so I've edited the question to remove them and keep the focus on the core question.
    – motosubatsu
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 11:39
  • I’d be careful for answers not knowing The country specific laws. It’s quite possible that after 15 years of contracts there are legal consequences. A German court for example would say “we don’t care that you had 15 one year contracts in a row, fact is she was employed for 15 years”. Mostly to make her entitled to benefits and legal protection.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 18:41

3 Answers 3


A contract that has a stated end date in the contract is indeed something where you do not need to take any action. If you don't sign a new contract, that's it. It ran out. It ended.

Are you entitled to just simply decide not to renew the contract.

You are. That's what a contract with a fixed end date is.

I would not call that "ghosting" though. Ghosting is intentionally avoiding contact. Letting a contract run out is a normal thing. It's literally on the paper you signed when you started.

From a moral point of view, you owe it to yourself to have a new contract lined up with another employer, before the old one expires, so you are not unemployed and lose money in between. And personally, I would say don't lie. If they ask you to renew, just say "no thanks, I found another opportunity." If they don't ask before your last day, that's their problem, they signed a limited term contract with you, they should know what is in their own paperwork.

  • 10
    It may be worth pointing out that if the contract has an "automatic renewal" clause, the situation changes: you must notify the other party if you do not intend to renew the contract.
    – mustaccio
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 11:56
  • Regarding the "ghosting" comment, I completely agree that not renewing the contract should not be considered bad behaviour even if some companies like to assume they are the only ones who are deciding whether to renew or not. However, I do think it is bad, and could be considered ghosting, to just ignore communications regarding a renewal. For example, they contact you on the last day with your renewal and you say "not interested" is fine, they contact you four weeks before the last day to let you know they intend to renew and you ignore them with the intention of leaving is poor behaviour.
    – Eric Nolan
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 13:03
  • "From a moral point of view, you owe it to yourself to have a new contract lined up with another employer, before the old one expires, so you are not unemployed and lose money in between. " Also, the company has been renting short-term, so to speak, because they like the ease of getting out of the situation. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 22:00

Whether you are entitled is more of a legal question and depends on your local employment laws.

But assuming you are, unless you have some other contract lined up you would be "screwing" yourself out of work/salary in the short turn and possibly burning bridges with this company/industry in the long term.

I dont see why an employee who is screwed out of benefits like this should owe there employer anything more.

Legally, they may not owe anything more but for practical reasons unless this is the employee's final contract and they are retiring, there will likely be negative consequences for doing this.

  • 3
    Could you point out the negative consequences? Your answer kinda seems to imply that you are bound to a company until you retire... or they let you retire.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 16:16
  • @nvoigt The negative consequences are all assuming OP doesn't have another contract lined up, they would mainly be the lost wages and any fallout due to the lack of communication with the current company ( I know its more of a courtesy thing but can lead to burnt bridges depending on the company ).
    – sf02
    Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 17:06
  • I don’t know South African law. In Germany 15 consecutive one year contracts would be treated like 15 years employment. So this needs checking by someone with specific South African knowledge.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 18:51
  • “Until you retire” again in Germany you or the company would just have to give legal notice. No idea about South African rules.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 18:58
  • @gnasher729 If you don't funnel your 15 one-year-contracts through at least 5 different shell companies, it's not even legal in Germany. You cannot employ someone for a fourth term on a contract that has an end date without good reason (Vgl. TzBfG).
    – nvoigt
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 13:12

I can’t tell you whether it’s legal or not. However if you tell the company two weeks before your contract ends what you want to do, that will hugely reduce the risk. They may say “ok, that’s fine”, or they may say “we will sue you”. Whatever they say will help you make your decision.

  • Sue you for completing the terms of your contract??
    – deep64blue
    Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 11:30
  • Sue you for leaving immediately after the end of the contract.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 23:43
  • Just as bizarre an idea!!
    – deep64blue
    Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 8:41
  • Deep blue, they use one year contracts to have long term employees, but without the protection that long term employees have. If they don’t like Op to leave, an exploitative employer could do anything.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 10, 2022 at 19:01

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