David Malamatenios is a partner and Krishna Santra and Colin Makin are senior associates at Colman Coyle Solicitors. They round up the latest rulings.
In Kücük v Land Nordrhein-Westfalen  IRLR 697 ECJ, the ECJ held that an employer's use of 13 successive fixed-term contracts over a period of 11 years was not inherently in breach of the Fixed-term Workers Directive, but that the issue of objective justification had to be assessed by the national court on the particular facts of the case.
The European Court of Justice has suggested that it may be possible for employers to justify engaging an individual for more than four years on a succession of fixed-term contracts as he or she moves around to cover work for different absent employees.
In Manchester College v Cocliff EAT/0035/10, the EAT held that an employment tribunal erred when it decided that there had been less favourable treatment on grounds of fixed-term status because it had found that any difference in terms was not objectively justifiable. Tribunals should first consider whether or not any less favourable treatment is on grounds of fixed-term status. Only if the answer is yes should they move on to consider the defence of objective justification.
An employment tribunal has found that an individual employed on three consecutive fixed-term contracts over almost a decade is a permanent employee, in a case that has significance for employers in sectors that regularly employ staff for a fixed term, such as teaching, IT and construction.
In Prakash v Wolverhampton City Council EAT/0140/06, the Employment Appeal Tribunal holds that where a fixed-term contractor's dismissal for misconduct was overturned by an appeal decided after the expiry date of the contract, the effect of the successful appeal was to reinstate the terms of the original contract. It could not extend the life of the contract beyond its expiry date.
In Adeneler and others v Ellinikos Organismos Galaktos  IRLR 716 the European Court of Justice has held that the objective reasons justifying the use of successive fixed-term contracts must relate to the particular employment in question.
Employment law cases: HR and legal information and guidance relating to fixed-term employees.
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