We find ourselves often stressing to clients the importance of ending a fixed term contract correctly. Even though there is an end date in the contract, it is not enough to allow it to come to an end. Indeed, notice has to be served, and it is not even as simple as that. It is essential to remember that a fixed term employee holds an employment contract with your organisation and is therefore entitled to employment protections, contractual rights as set out in the employment agreement and employee benefits in the same way as other permanent employees. There is absolutely no difference in how they ought to be treated.
If a fixed term contract role is coming to an end, alternative full time employment must be considered, and this applies even when the fixed term contract covers a maternity leave. Indeed, if there is a redundancy then full consultation should take place; if there is misconduct, then the disciplinary procedure and for under-performance, the capability route.
The logic behind this is that the end of a fixed term contact is regarded as a dismissal and therefore the reason for the dismissal needs to be clear, with full consultation where the dismissal is on account of redundancy. A termination needs to be fair in all circumstances and beware of taking someone else on to cover the same work, having allowed the existing contract to expire. There may be need, also, to check entitlement to statutory redundancy pay and the way in which you advertise long term vacancies. In all cases, notice must be served in line with the Employee’s Rights Act of 1996, and if there is sufficient service, employees can require a written statement for the reasons of dismissal.
This particular topic, along with the misapprehension that you can remove individuals easily with less than two years’ service are some of the most common queries, and misconceptions, that we encounter on a regular basis. To protect yourself from risk, please do get in touch.