Fixed Term Contracts and Unfair Dismissal
Friday 19th January 2018
In Royal Surrey County NHS Foundation Trust v Drzymala the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) considered whether an employer’s compliance with the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations renders the dismissal of a fixed-term employee fair.
Ms Drzymala was a doctor employed by Royal Surrey County NHS Foundation Trust (‘the Trust’) on a series of fixed-term contracts. Eventually her contract was not renewed. Ms Drzymala brought a claim for unfair dismissal against the Trust.
The EAT upheld the decision of the first-tier tribunal that the dismissal was unfair, finding that the Trust’s compliance with the non-discrimination provisions contained in the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations was not sufficient in itself to render the dismissal fair. In this case the Trust had not adequately discussed with Ms Drzymala any potential alternative roles within the Trust and had not given Ms Drzymala the right to appeal against the decision not to renew her fixed-term contract.
Comment: When taking the decision not to renew fixed-term employees’ contracts, employers should ensure that the decision is fair in all the circumstances. This case confirms that this type of dismissal is no different from others to the extent that it must be both substantively and procedurally fair in order to be lawful.