Employment ContractsFriday, Aug 10, 2001
The Christine Rankin saga has now passed. She went to the employment court, took on her employer and
lost. Some sort of a deal has been struck to terminate any further action, so the battle of glam
and colour against the drab and boring has come to an end.
Love her or hate her, one has to admit that she was treated badly, while a glance at the witnesses brought
in by government would show what a surreal world she was working in. Finally the case seemed
to come down to the fact that she was employed under a contract that terminated at a specific time.
This raises an interesting point because advice given to farm employers says that a termination date
cannot be written into a contract, even though some contracts have space specifically for that. An
employee can expect the job to continue unless there is a major change in circumstance, conveniently
called a restructuring.
Obviously the Government was aware of this because it hastily thought up a shonky restructuring parcel
to cover itself from this angle. They thought, like Rankin’s lawyers, that the contract termination
clause was not enough in its own right to terminate her employment. The court obviously
What impact will this have on normal employers like farmers?
Will they be able to offer staff a limited contract now?
Will they be able to be abusive, suggestive or intolerant and have that considered unimportant to a
I think we all know the answer to those questions, but in fairness it would need to be tested in the
court. It would seem that there could be one set of rules for the ‘high rollers’ and
another for the rest.
Contributed by associate editor David Clegg