Fixed term contracts have regularly been used in schools for many years.
There are often situations in schools where a permanent contract is not suitable.
They are used where the employment contract is to end on a particular date or upon the completion of a specific task, or the occurrence (or non-occurrence) of a specific event.
There is nothing wrong with using successive fixed-term contracts as long as they are used properly and there is always a contract of employment in place reflecting that specific contract.
For example: Teaching Assistants are often given fixed-term contracts to give one to one support to a particular pupil. It is important that their employment contract links them to that particular pupil to avoid the Teaching Assistant gaining permanent employment status in that role, which is not what was envisaged. If there was not a specific contract in place and the TA was moved to another fixed term role, when that pupil had left, without amending the contract, then their employment is likely to become permanent if they have been employed for 4 years or more.
Remember that fixed-term workers have the right to claim unfair dismissal and will qualify for a redundancy payment if they have been employed for 2 years or more.
You should be aware of the worker’s continuous service date or you could find yourself in a situation where you employed somebody for a period of 6 or 12 months, thinking that they don’t have redundancy rights, but in fact they have come from another school and therefore have continuous employment from that school, which could well tip them over that two year period meaning that a redundancy payment would have to be paid out of your school’s budget.
If they had 10 years continuous service with their last school, the cost to your school when terminating their employment could be substantial!
Employees on fixed-term contracts also have the right to not be treated less favourably than comparable permanent employees.
Take advice if you are unsure about the use of fixed-term contracts or are not clear about those fixed term contracts you already have in place.
We can give you support and advice regarding any fixed term contract issues you have may, or if you are contemplating introducing a fixed term contract.