Employees (and workers) may be contracted to work for a fixed period only or to perform a particular task. These are fixed-term contracts — also known as limited-term contracts.

Such contracts are covered by the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002, which implement the Fixed-term Work Directive (99/70/EC), came into effect on 1 October 2002.

The broad aim of the Directive (and, therefore, the 2002 Regulations) is to prevent fixed-term employees (but not workers) from being treated less favourably than similar permanent employees.

Other aims are to:

  • limit the potential for a series of fixed-term contracts being used in order to circumvent employee rights dependent on continuity of service

  • improve access to training for fixed-term workers.

This topic explains who is covered by the legislation, the definition of a fixed-term contract and what constitutes less favourable treatment. It also considers how fixed-term employees should be treated with respect to the offer of permanent work, training and development, employee consultation, redundancy and dismissal.

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