Following extensive consultation, the government has published a second draft of the Fixed-Term (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 and has commenced a period of further consultation.
The Regulations are designed to give effect to the EC Fixed Term Workers Directive, which must be implemented by 10th July 2002. Unsurprisingly, the proposed date for UK compliance is 10th July 2002!
The latest draft is similar to the original, although some tweaking has taken place. The draft Regulations confer the following rights:
• a right for fixed-term employees (note: 'employees', not 'workers') not to be treated less favourably than a comparable permanent employee, unless objectively justified. This does not require like-for-like pro rata entitlements - provided the fixed-term employee's contractual rights are, as a whole, at least as favourable as the permanent employee's, objective justification is deemed to be made out.
• an obligation on employers to advertise permanent vacancies in such a way as is reasonably likely to come to the fixed-term employee's attention;
• a right to receive a written statement of reasons for treatment, if the employee believes less favourable treatment has occurred;
• provision that any dismissal for seeking to enforce these rights is automatically unfair;
• provision that a fixed-term contract will be converted to a permanent contract upon the next renewal/extension if the employee has been employed on a fixed-term contract for over four years (unless the employer can demonstrate an objective justification for continued fixed-term employment). This period can be varied by collective agreement, and the employee can demand a statement that the employment has converted to a permanent basis. The four-year period starts running from the date the Regulations commence (ie fixed-term time before 10th July 2002 does not count as part of the four-years);
• the ability to enter into redundancy payment waiver agreements will be abolished.
Further information, and the draft Regulations, can be obtained here.