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Fixed Term contracts: your right to permanency

September 10, 2010

Have you got 4 years’ service on 2 or more successive contracts, or had your contract renewed?  Then you are entitled to ask for confirmation from HR that your contract is now permanent.

Under the Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002:

A fixed-term employee has a right to ask their employer for a written statement confirming that their contract is permanent or setting out objective reasons for the use of a fixed-term contract beyond the four-year period.  The employer must provide this statement within 21 days.

UCU has a pro-forma letter [download below] and we would encourage all members who meet the criteria below to send a copy of this to HR.  Please make sure you cc the letter to Sue Redhead in the local UCU office, and let us know about any response you receive from HR, or if you do not receive a response within 21 days.

Under Regulation 8 of the regulations, employees have the right to regard their position as permanent if the following conditions are met:

  • the employee is on at least their second contract with the same employer or the contract has been previously renewed; and
  • the employee has at least four years’ continuous service; and
  • the use of a fixed-term contract was not justified on objective grounds.

The four years’ service must be continuous with the same employer (i.e. the University of Leeds); it does not affect your rights if you have worked in different departments or had changes to your contract in that period.

Whether or not the use of the fixed-term contract is justified on objective grounds will be determined on a case by case basis. The regulations do not define ‘objective justification’ but it should refer to precise and concrete circumstances characterising a given activity which are capable in that particular context of justifying the use of successive fixed-term contracts.  In the case of Ball v Aberdeen University the tribunal rejected the university’s case that short term funding could automatically provide a justification for employment on a fixed term contract.

The current situation in the university, and HE in general, makes it even more important that you don’t delay: send your letter in today. Download a letter template here.

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