Workers can be contracted to work for a fixed period only but even so, fixed term employees have the right not to be treated less favourably than comparable permanent employees i.e. those with employment contracts for an indefinite period.
Additionally, all fixed term employees are entitled to the same range of statutory employment rights once they have achieved any necessary qualifying period of service. This includes the right not to be unfairly dismissed and the right to a written statement of the reason for any dismissal. It is also possible for fixed term employees to be classed as permanent if they have served under a series of successive fixed term contracts.
A fixed term employee therefore is a person whose employment is due to end when either a specified date is reached or a specified event does or does not happen or a specified task has been completed. It is always desirable for employers to have the ability to terminate the contract before the end of the fixed term. For this reason notice clauses within fixed term contracts are recommended.
The fixed term contract will automatically terminate at the end of the fixed term. If the contract has run its full course, employees cannot claim that they have been wrongfully dismissed. However, the expiry of a fixed term contract without it being renewed is deemed to be a dismissal for the purposes of employee’s statutory rights. Therefore, claims for unfair dismissal can be brought if a non-renewal was unfair.
Fixed term employees should not be automatically selected for redundancy merely because they are not permanent employees. Employers also need to comply with the statutory redundancy payments that apply to other employees. Fixed term employees therefore, cannot be excluded from a statutory redundancy payments scheme.
In summary, fixed term employees have the right not to be treated less favourably and not to be automatically unfairly dismissed or subject to any detriment on the grounds of their fixed term status.