What rights do I have as a fixed-term employee?
The 2002 regulations provide that employers must not treat fixed-term employees less favourably than similar permanent employees with regard to pay, conditions of service and pensions, and place restrictions on the repeated use of fixed-term contracts.
You have the right not to be subjected to any detriment, act or failure to act by the employer on grounds that you are a fixed-term employee. In addition, all workers have specific protection from discrimination at work under the Equality Act 2010. You are protected whether you are permanent, fixed-term, full-time, part-time, supply or agency.
Am I covered by the regulations?
The regulations apply to all staff employed on fixed-term contracts.
Supply teachers who have an employment contract with an employer are included, as are staff who have been introduced to a school by an agency but then enter into an employment contract with a school, local authority or academy trust.
Early career teachers (ECTs) employed on fixed-term contracts during their induction year will be covered by the regulations.
Agency workers who are engaged directly by an employment agency are specifically excluded by the regulations unless they are employed on an employment contract with the agency.
Similarly, students on training courses will not be able to rely on the regulations.
What contractual terms and conditions should I have as a fixed-term employee?
Employers are not prevented from using fixed-term contracts in the first place but they are prohibited from giving less favourable terms and conditions on the basis of your fixed-term status, unless they can objectively justify the treatment.
This means that you have the right on a pro rata basis to the same pay and other contractual provisions, such as pay and paid bank holidays, as your permanent counterparts. You have the same access to grievance procedures and the same rights under disciplinary and capability procedures.
When a fixed-term contract ends on the date specified in the contract, the employer will not normally need to give notice although it is good employment practice to do so. If there is no specified end date but a task ends or the substantive post-holder returns earlier than expected, notice must be given by the employer in accordance with the contract.
If you are a teacher employed under the Burgundy Book (the national agreement on teachers’ conditions of service in England and Wales), employed for more than one term and you are not covering for a permanently appointed teacher, the usual notice periods apply should you or your employer wish to terminate the contract before it expires.
What statutory employment rights do I have as a fixed-term employee?
Your employer should not treat you less favourably on the grounds of your fixed-term status in the way it applies statutory employment rights to you.
Entitlement to a permanent contract
The 2002 regulations include a mechanism for restricting the use of successive fixed-term contracts – this is not allowed to last longer than a combined period of four years. A fixed-term employee who has been engaged for four years on two or more fixed-term contracts will be entitled to become a permanent member of staff, unless the use of a fixed-term contract is objectively justified.
How can I, as a fixed-term teacher, become permanent?
You will become permanent if you accrue four years' continuous service on two or more fixed-term contracts with the same employer unless the previous fixed-term contract or the renewal is justified on objective grounds.
If you are a teacher employed on a full-time fixed-term or temporary contract, you automatically pay pension contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme unless you choose to opt out.
Access to training
The regulations state that employees on fixed-term contracts should have the same opportunity to receive training as permanent employees unless less favourable treatment can be justified.
Notification of vacancies
The regulations also state that employees on fixed-term contracts have the right to be informed of available vacancies at their workplace.