Is it right to work without a contract?

Friday October 25 2019

Caroline Mboijana

Caroline Mboijana 

By Caroline Mboijana

I have been working without a contract for a year now. There are colleagues who have even worked for longer without a contract and have given up on getting one. My employer keeps promising to give me a contract but doesn’t keep his word. What does the law say about this? What should I do? Please advise Lilly

Dear Lilly,
From what I can establish, you have been working without a contract; reporting to work everyday, you have been given tools of trade, are paid for delivering defined work and have done so for the last year.

This can be interpreted as being employed under a verbal contract agreement. While this may be perceived as sufficient, my advice is to push for a written employment contract.
Having a contract clarifies the nature of your relationship between yourself and your employer and defines the legal obligations of both parties.

Its importance is to ensure that your rights are protected; it defines how disputes are managed and resolved; and documents aspects such as leave and pay. The contract also addresses grey areas that are increasingly becoming difficult for employers to ignore, such as harassment. The law does provide the minimum basic framework on how employment relationships should be managed.

However, a contract will include elements of best practice. Furthermore, not having a written contract agreement means that in the event of a dispute, there is no proof that what was actually agreed is being implemented; both parties will be relying on memory and over time the people who made the verbal agreement may leave or forget.

If you ever went to court for breach of contract, you would have no way of proving the existence of a contract with agreed terms and conditions, because it does not exist. Continue pushing for a written contact.


Caroline Mboijana
Managing Director
The Leadership Team (U)