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Fixed Term Contracts

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A quick reminder that next week (10th July) sees the fourth anniversary of the Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002. The significance of this anniversary is that, under regulation 8, any employee who has been on a fixed-term contract (or a series of fixed-term contracts) for four years becomes, as if by magic, a permanent employee. There is an objective justification exception, if the employer can objectively justify the fixed-term nature of the contract at the date of the last renewal.

In practical terms, nothing really turns on this (since expiry of a fixed-term contract is just as much a dismissal, for employment law purposes, as a straight sacking). There is one little point of interest, though...

Technically, the employer must (within one month of the fourth anniversary) give the employee a statement of changes to his terms and conditions of employment - so as to provide information as to the length of the relevant notice periods rather than the date of expiry under a fixed term contract (ERA 1996, ss1(4)(e) and (g)). Failure to do so can result in an award of two or four weeks' pay (Employment Act 2002, s38)