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Employment law guide

Fixed Term Employees

Fixed term employees are those on contracts that last for a specified period of time or will end when a specified task has been completed or a specified event does or does not happen.

Fixed-term employees should not be treated less favourably than comparable permanent employees on the grounds they are fixed-term employees, unless this is objectively justified.

Either each of the fixed-term employee’s terms and conditions of employment should not be less favourable than the equivalent treatment given to their comparator or the fixed-term employee’s overall package of conditions should not be less favourable. In both instances any less favourable treatment would need to be justified on objective grounds. 

There is no limit on the duration of the first fixed-term contract, although if a contract of four years or more is renewed, it will be treated from then as permanent unless the use of a fixed-term contract is objectively justified.

A fixed-term employee can compare their treatment to the treatment of a comparable permanent employee. A comparable permanent employee is someone who works for the same employer in the same establishment, doing the same or broadly similar work, and the comparator’s skills and qualifications must be taken into account where they are relevant to the job.

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