How long is a piece of string? A combination of fixed term appointments or on-going employment? The question whether an employment relationship continues through various tasks or appointments, rather than being constituted by more than one back to back employment relationships is a question for objective legal assessment. Both are entirely possible. In this case the Commission concluded that it was the former which was the effect of the negotiations and performance, and that although the employee was appointed continuously from one job to another during her employment, the completion of a particular role and the failure by the employer to offer her a new role was in fact a dismissal because upon a proper construction (or de-construction) of the legal context, the employment relationship was not a series of independent terms of employment but an on-going legal relationship under which it was for the employee to undertake a number of tasks as they were required. However, that is not to say that an employer and an employee cannot enter into a number of fixed term contracts, or for specific projects, which do not add cumulatively and become one on-going legal relationship of employer and employee.
Of course, the Fair Work Act uses the concept of continuous employment for the calculation of statutory redundancy payments and it is quite likely at least for that purpose that separate period of employment may together become continuous service foe that purposes.
Morris v Palcove Pty Ltd T/A Cheap as Chips (2015) FWC 7890 delivered 18 November 2015 per O’Callaghan SDP