The UK Rules
Fixed Term Employee Contracts

Fixed Term Employment Contracts UK

A fixed term employment contract is a contractual working relationship. The purpose of fixed-term employment contracts is to last for a specific period of time.

Entitlements in Fixed Term Employment

Someone with employee status would have a fixed-term contract if both of these apply:

UK fixed-term employees receive the same rights as permanent employees with comparable jobs. It also applies to jobs requiring similar skills experience for the same employer.

As a rule, fixed-term contracts do not have a predetermined duration limit. Even so, a contract of four (4) years or longer would get treated afterwards as permanent position.

Note: There must be 'objective justification' to treat fixed term employees less 'favourably' than any permanent staff.

Fixed-term Employee Examples

Employers must ensure that any fixed-term employees receive:

Note: Entitlement to the same rights would only apply to permanent staff who work for the same employer. It would not apply to an associated organisation of the employer. Fixed term employees have the same rights on redundancy after continuous employment with the same employer for two (2) years.

Workplace Disputes with Fixed-term Employees

Most workers on fixed-term contracts should try to solve a workplace dispute 'informally' with their manager. They can also request a written statement explaining the treatment they received.

Even so, you may need to use the employer grievance procedures or make a claim to an employment tribunal.

Workers Not Considered as Fixed-term Employees

When a Fixed Term Employment Contracts Ends

Renewing or Ending Fixed Term Employment Contracts

Ending a Fixed-term Contract

As a rule, a fixed term contract will end by automatic process when it reaches the agreed end date. In this case, an employer would not need to issue any notice period.

If a Contract is Not Renewed

UK employment legislation considers non renewal of a fixed term contract as a dismissal. An employer would need to show a 'fair' reason for not renewing a contract and if the employee has two (2) years of service. An example would be a case where the plan was to end the work that the contract got issued for.

Workers on fixed term employment contracts have the right:

Different rules apply if the reason for non-renewal is redundancy. Entitlement to statutory redundancy payments would occur after 2 years of service.

Employer wants to End a Contract Early

As a rule, the terms of the contract would determine what happens if the employer wants to end it early. Thus, if the fixed-term contract:

Fixed Term Employee Contracts Minimum Notice Periods

As a fixed-term employee, you would have the right to receive a minimum notice period of:

Note: A fixed term contract may specify a longer notice period than the statutory minimums. But, ending a fixed-term contract without giving the proper notice means the employee may claim for breach of contract.

Working Longer than a Contract End Date

There would be an 'implied agreement' if the work continues after the end date of a contract. This may occur even if it does not get 'formally' renewed by the employer. But, they would still need to give proper notice to dismiss a worker.

Limit on Fixed-term Contract Renewal

Any employee becomes a permanent employee after four (4) years on a fixed-term contract. An exception may apply if the employer can show a valid business reason for not doing so.

Note: Employer and unions (or staff association) can make a collective agreement. It could remove the automatic right to become a permanent employee in such circumstances.

Renewing a Fixed-term Contract Less 'Favourably'

Renewing on less favourable terms generally needs negotiations and an agreement between the employer and the employee. But, if the contract ends without reaching an agreement, an employee might have a case to claim for unfair dismissal.

Employee Ending a Contract Early

There are minimum periods for handing in your notice at work - even for fixed-term workers. You must hand in your notice one (1) week in advance if you worked for an employer for at least one month. A longer notice period may get stated in the terms of the contract.

Fixed Term Employment Contracts and Employee Rights in the United Kingdom