Since the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 came into force, fixed-term employees with four or more years of continuous employment who have their contracts renewed on a new fixed-term contract are deemed to be employed on a permanent contract unless a further fixed-term contract can be objectively justified (regulation 8). Only service since 10 July 2002 counts towards the calculation of four years’ continuous service for these purposes and so fixed-term workers will start to gain permanent status under this rule from 10 July 2006.
A fixed-term employee who believes that the renewal of their contract has triggered these provisions can write to their employer requesting a statement of variation of their contract in order to reflect the change to permanent status (regulation 9). In order for the employer to establish objective justification for a contract extension they will need to show that it is:
- To achieve a legitimate objective
- Necessary to achieve that objective
- An appropriate way to achieve that objective
Employers need to be aware of the implications of the Regulations and the significance of 10 July 2006 so that fixed term employees can be managed.