How failure to renew a fixed term contract can mean an unfair dismissal

Mills & Reeve's health and care update has recently reported on a case where an NHS foundation trust was held to have unfairly dismissed a locum consultant as a result of failing to renew her contract.

Most cases about fixed term contracts have tended to focus on the equal treatment requirements of the Fixed Term Employees Regulations.  However this case illustrates that even if all the requirements of the Regulations are met, failure to renew can still amount to an unfair dismissal (assuming that the employee has the necessary two years' continuity of employment). 

The expiry of a fixed term contract is a potentially fair reason for dismissal, since it would normally fall into the "some other substantial reason" category, assuming that it is not on grounds of redundancy.  However, like standard redundancy dismissals, problems can arise if there is no adequate appeal procedure, or if alternative employment is not properly considered.  These considerations apply to any organisation which uses fixed term contracts, and are not confined to the NHS and other parts of the public sector.

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