New draft regulations on fixed-term contracts look likely to cause fewer
headaches for employers than was originally feared. The Regulations on Fixed
Term Work, which come into force on July 10, will make employers liable for
discrimination against fixed term workers. But the latest amendments to the
draft will make it easier to defend claims.
It will be unlawful for an employer to treat a fixed-term employee less
favourably than a permanent comparator in the provision of pay, benefits and
other contractual terms and conditions, or by subjecting him to a detriment,
unless it can be objectively justified.
Treatment will be assessed by looking at the individual contract term or
benefit in question. But employers will now be able to objectively justify the
detriment if they can show the claimant’s terms and conditions, taken as a
whole, are at least as favourable as the comparator’s.
The revised draft also allows employers to depart by collective agreement
from the basic statutory scheme limiting the renewal of fixed term contracts.
However, employment lawyers are questioning whether fixed-term contracts
will be of much use following the July introduction, since the regulations will
also abolish the waiver for statutory redundancy pay.