Fixed Term Work (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002

The Fixed Term Work (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002, which implement the 1999 EU Directive on Fixed Term Work, came into force on 1 October 20021.

The Regulations make it unlawful to treat an employee on a fixed term contract less favourably than an employee on a permanent contract, unless this can be ‘justified on objective grounds’ (Regulation 3(3)(b)).

This means that staff employed on fixed term contracts should be given the same opportunity as staff on open-ended contracts to discuss their work objectives and training needs and be given feedback on their performance (ie through participation in the Performance and Development Review scheme) and have the same access to training and development opportunities. It also means that staff employed on fixed term contracts should be included in consideration for merit awards – ie members of staff should not be excluded from consideration for merit awards or contribution points simply because they are engaged on a fixed term basis or their appointment is not ‘University funded’.

The Regulations also require an employer to ‘inform’ fixed-term employees of ‘available vacancies in the establishment’ (Regulation 3(6)&(7)). The University meets this obligation by advertising all vacancies through its internal vacancy bulletin which is available through the website of Human Resources. It can also be viewed on the noticeboard in Human Resources, on the third floor of Northcote House on the Streatham Campus.

Regulation 8 specifies that a fixed term contract automatically becomes permanent when it is renewed beyond four years unless the employer can argue that the further employment of the employee under a fixed-term contract is ‘justified on objective grounds’. It may be required to give a written statement of these ‘objective grounds’ to the employee and to an Employment Tribunal, which can declare the employment to be permanent (Regulation 9).

Any claims made by employees should be referred immediately to the relevant HR Business Partner. However, one of the intentions of the 2009 local agreement between the University of Exeter and trade unions (see the section on Appropriate use) is to minimise the likelihood of such a claim arising by clarifying the circumstances in which fixed term contracts will be used by the University.

Employment arrangements

The University has undertaken (in the 2009 local agreement with trade unions) that2:

  • Employees engaged on fixed-term contracts will not be treated less favourably than comparable employees on open-ended contracts with regard to employment terms and benefits and access to development, unless there are objectively justifiable reasons for doing so.
  • Letters of appointment (and letters confirming the extension of employment) will confirm that the employment is fixed-term and state the end date of the appointment.
  • The reasons for the fixed term nature of the employment should be explained to the employee.

1This managers' guide updates guidelines on the Regulations issued in 2002 and 2004.

2The wording in italics is from the text of the local agreement.  The full text is available from Human Resources upon request.