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Unfair dismissal for the non-renewal of a fixed-term contract

The non-renewal of a fixed term contract can be fair under the head of “some other substantial reason”, for example where it was to cover a particular project which is then concluded.

However, this case shows the risk that it can amount to an unfair dismissal, even if the employer has complied with the Fixed-term Employees Regulations, which they argued unsuccessfully should make the dismissal fair. The employee had been employed on a series of fixed-term contracts. A permanent vacancy arose before her contract was due to expire. She was interviewed, along with another candidate, but not appointed. Subsequently she was given notice that her fixed term contract would not be extended. The employer's letter made no mention of a right of appeal or any alternative employment with them. The tribunal held that the normal law on unfair dismissal applies to dismissals which arise from the non-renewal of a fixed-term contract. The tribunal was right to consider that the Claimant had been poorly treated by her employer when it failed to pursue a discussion about alternative roles and to provide the Claimant with a timely right of appeal.

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