Many industries rely heavily on seasonal workers over the busy
summer months. Employers hiring seasonal workers need to take care
that their contractual arrangements with those employees are
consistent with fixed term, rather than permanent employment to
avoid employees challenging their dismissal at the end of the
A recent Employment Court case,Turner v Talley's Group Ltdwas
decided in favour of the employee, who claimed that she was
unjustifiably dismissed from her seasonal employment at a fish
Ms Turner had been employed on a number of employment agreements
over several years. The most recent agreement stated that she was
employed as a 'seasonal employee', and that if the season extended
further than the usual period she would become a 'casual employee'.
When she was told she would not have on-going employment, Ms Turner
raised a personal grievance, claiming unjustified dismissal.
Talley's argued that it was justified in ending her employment
as the season had ended.
The Court did not agree.
The Court ruled that although seasonal employment within the
fish processing industry fell within the meaning of "fixed-term"
employment, Talley's had failed to meet the legal requirements for
employing Ms Turner on a fixed-term basis. The Court ruled that she
was a permanent employee.
Fixed term employees under the Employment Relations
The Employment Relations Act sets out specific requirements
employers must comply with when using a fixed term agreement. These
1. An employer must have genuine reasons for employing someone
on a fixed term basis;
2. Fixed term employees must be given a written employment
3. The reasons for the fixed-term must be set out in the
4. The agreement must state how and when the employee's
employment will end.
Failing to comply with these requirements could lead to
employees being treated as permanent employees, with the ability to
bring a personal grievance claim for unjustified