Data file

Our continuing series of articles which give the basics on key areas of
employment legislation

Fixed-term employees
The hard facts

The Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations
2002 are due to come into force on 10 July 2002. The regulations will prohibit
employers from discriminating against fixed-term employees and limit the use of
successive fixed-term contracts.

The regulations are being introduced as secondary legislation under the
Employment Bill and will implement the EC Directive on Fixed Term Work.

The main changes

The main changes that the regulations will introduce are:

– A right not to be treated less favourably than those on permanent
contracts, unless the treatment can be objectively justified

– A right to receive a written statement of reasons within 21 days of
request if a fixed-term employee believes he has been less favourably treated

– An obligation on employers to advertise permanent vacancies in a manner
reasonably likely to come to fixed-term employees’ attention

– The use of successive fixed-term contracts will be limited to a maximum of
four years, subject to limited exceptions

– Fixed-term employees will no longer be entitled to waive their right to a
statutory redundancy payment and

– A dismissal of an employee seeking to enforce rights under the Regulations
will be automatically unfair.

Who will the regulations apply to?

– All employees who are employed on fixed-term contracts, so it does not
cover the wider category of ‘workers’ used in other discrimination legislation.
Agency workers, apprentices, government-supported training schemes and the
armed forces are excluded.

Pay and pensions

– After the initial consultation, the Government has decided that the
non-discrimination principle in the regulations will cover pay and pensions.
Accordingly, it will become unlawful for occupational pension schemes to
exclude employee who are on fixed-term contracts from membership if comparable
permanent employees are eligible, unless it can be objectively justified.

Part-time and agency workers

– As a result of the regulations, the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less
Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 will be amended on 30 June 2002 to
abolish distinction between fixed-term and open-ended contracts.

– It has been widely reported that the EU is putting together proposals to
give temporary/agency workers equivalent employment rights to permanent
employees. CBI comment is at:

http://www.cbi.org.uk/home.html

Reading around the subject

– The first consultation took place last year, and the Government response
to it can be found at:

http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/fixed/response.htm

– Final consultation is now in progress, and the deadline for responses is
15 April 2002. The consultation document (including explanatory notes) is at:

http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/fixed/consult2.htm

In the news

– Equal Opportunities Commission comment on the Regulations:

http://www.eoc.org.uk/cseng/legislation/legal_developments.asp

– CBI comment on the proposals implemented under the Employment Bill:

http://www.cbi.org.uk

By Claire Hughes at Wragg & Co

Comments are closed.