A contract staff, as the name indicates, is a worker whose appointment, conditions of service and termination are governed by contracts between the employer and the employee.
Note that for civil and public servants, the appointment is regulated by law; workers in private employment are governed by labor and employment rules while contract staff are governed by the contract of service.
Contract staff may be employed in the civil or public service or in private employment. The most important distinction, however, is that there is no security of tenure as the employment will expire at the time stated in the contract papers or may be terminated at any time subject to the contract of service.
Where the contract staff is employed in the civil or public service, such employment will be regulated by terms and conditions allowed by the Civil or Public Service Rules. And the employer of such a contract staff may not go beyond what these rules specify in employing the contract staff, otherwise the employment will be invalid. For instance, if the civil service rules provide that a contract staff must not be appointed for a period exceeding 3 months, any appointment of a contract staff for 4 months by any ministry or body will be invalid, having exceeded the limit prescribed by the rules.
Termination of appointment of a contract staff may not follow any particular format or the general rules of termination of employment. For instance, a public or private employee accused of misconduct is entitled to fair hearing before his appointment is terminated. Such an employee must be given the constitutionally-mandated opportunity of being told why he is being sacked and asked to defend himself, whether in writing or otherwise. But this may not happen with a contract staff whose appointment may be terminated summarily without any opportunity of being heard, so long as the contract of employment allows for it.
Where a contract staff is employed in a public service but later transfers his appointment to a full one, the period of such contract or temporary service may be counted in full to determine his length of service for the purpose of payment of pension.
Note, however, that in most cases, contract staff are normally given a period of notice within which their contract may be terminated. In most cases too, a provision is made for payment in lieu of notice.