Understanding fixed-term contracts

Fixed-term contracts and the 'equal treatment' principle


Fixed-term employees have the right not to be treated less favourably than comparable permanent employees because of their employment status, unless the different treatment can be objectively justified.

Comparing employment conditions

To assess whether they are receiving equal treatment, a fixed-term employee can compare their employment conditions to that of a comparable permanent employee. This means someone working for you on an indefinite or an indeterminate employment contract and in the same place, doing the same or similar work. Skills and qualifications are taken into account where relevant to the job.

Where a fixed-term employee does the same work as several permanent employees whose contractual terms are different, the fixed-term employee can select someone to compare themselves to.

The chances of a claim for equal treatment being successful depend on the employee selecting a similar comparator and whether there are objectively justifiable reasons for their being treated differently.

If no comparable permanent employee works in the same place, a fixed-term employee can choose someone working for you at another premises, but not someone working for a different employer.

An employee will not be a comparable permanent employee if his/her employment has ceased.