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22:23 on Monday
22 December 2003

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Fixed Term Employees


The Government has just published its latest proposals on Regulations to prevent discrimination against employees on fixed term contracts. Amongst other things, the regulations will aim to prevent employees being taken on using a series of fixed term contracts, and improve access to permanent jobs for fixed term employees.

The proposals are estimated to affect between 25,000 and 53,000 employees.

Amongst the main proposals are:

  • The prohibition of less favourable treatment, by comparison to permanent employees who do the same or similar work for the same employer in the same establishment, or in a different establishment where there is no comparator working in the same place.

  • The ability to treat fixed term workers less favourably only if the treatment can be objectively justified.

  • The rights for fixed term employees to receive the same treatment in relation to any qualifying periods for benefits; opportunities to receive training, and opportunities to secure permanent employment with the employer.

  • The right for fixed term employees to receive a written statement giving the reasons for any less favourable treatment they believe to have occurred. This statement to be provided within 21 days of the request.

  • The use of successive fixed term contacts to be limited to four years, unless a longer period is objectively justified. This limit can be displaced by workplace agreements, which can specify a maximum duration of successive fixed term contracts. If a fixed term contract is renewed in breach of the limitation, the term of the contract limiting it to be a fixed term will become invalid. The contract will be regarded as a permanent one.

  • No time limit on the length of a first fixed term contract.

  • The right for fixed term employees to receive a written statement either confirming that their contract s are to be regarded as permanent or giving reasons why it continues to have effect as a fixed term contract.

  • Service on successive fixed term contracts before the regulations come in to force will not count.

  • Fixed term employees on contracts of two years or more, will no longer be able to waive their statutory right to receive redundancy payments if they are made redundant at the end of their contracts.

  • Employees on task contracts expected to last 3 months or less will have the right to minimum notice periods on the same basis as permanent staff.

  • The rights to receive guarantee payments, payments on the ground of medical suspension and statutory sick pay on the same basis as permanent employees.

The consultation period on the proposals is open until 15th April 2002.

January 2002

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This article is an employment law e-ssentials bulletin produced by Hegarty & Co

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