Are employees on fixed-term contracts entitled to statutory notice of their dismissal?

Generally, a fixed-term contract will terminate at a specified date, or on the occurrence of a specified event, such as the completion of a task. Employees are not entitled to the statutory minimum notice under s.86 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 in these circumstances, although it would be good practice for employers to provide notice.

Early termination of a fixed-term contract will result in a breach of contract, unless the contract contains an early termination clause allowing either party to give notice. Where the contract allows the employer to end it early by giving notice, the employee will be entitled to the statutory minimum notice applicable. If the terms of the contract provide for notice in excess of the statutory minimum, the employer must give the contractual amount provided for. Failure to do so will expose the employer to a breach of contract claim.

In order to be eligible for statutory notice of their dismissal, employees must have been employed continuously for at least one month. Where an employee is employed under a fixed-term contract with a specified term of one month or less but has been continuously employed for three months or more, they will, by virtue of s.86(4) of the Employment Rights Act 1996, be deemed to be permanent and therefore entitled to statutory minimum notice.