The Fixed-term Employees Regulations

Which staff are covered by the Regulations?

The Regulations cover fixed-term employees. A fixed-term employee is defined as a person with a contract of employment that comes to an end:

  1. Upon reaching a specified date,
  2. When a specified task has been completed, or
  3. When a specified event does or does not occur.

If the employer refuses to guarantee the same level of hours the next year, then the contract is not a permanent contract but a fixed term one. (This applies to HPLs whose hours of work differ annually: any reduction in hours could be declined in favour of redundancy.)

No Less Favourable Treatment

A fixed-term employee has the right not to be treated less favourably than a comparable permanent employee with regard to terms and conditions or suffering any other detriment, unless the treatment can be justified on objective grounds. These objective grounds are known as the Del Cerro grounds, after a European court case:

…objective justification must be by reference to precise and concrete factors which characterise the particular employment activity. A reliance on a general provision which is not linked to the job in question is unlikely to amount to objective justification. [1]

This also means that if one employee is given a fixed term contract and another in a very similar role was given a permanent one it is unlikely to pass this test – the same objective grounds must apply to both employees.

Objective justification of successive use of FT contracts

After 4 years’ successive use of a FT contract, the employer can be asked to justify the continued use of this FT contract, and this justification must also satisfy the objective grounds outlined above.  See Fixed-term Employees Letter to employer, requesting reasons for less favourable treatment.


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