At what point does an employee who has been employed on a series of successive fixed-term contracts become a permanent employee?
Where an employee has been continuously employed on a series of successive fixed-term contracts for four years or more, they will automatically achieve permanent status, unless there is an objective reason that justifies a further renewal for a fixed term.
The employee will become a permanent employee on the later of the date on which the contract was entered into (where the employee was employed on a previous fixed-term contract prior to the start of the current contract) or renewed, and the date on which they accrued four years' continuous service.
For example, if an employee has been employed on a fixed-term contract of three years that is renewed for a further two years, assuming that the employer cannot justify a further fixed-term contract, the employee will achieve permanent status on the date on which they accrue four years' service. If an employee is employed on a fixed-term contract of five years, and the contract is renewed, assuming that the employer cannot justify a further fixed-term contract, the employee will achieve permanent status on the date on which the contract is renewed. However, if the employee is dismissed at the end of the five-year contract, they will not achieve permanent status because, although the fixed-term contract lasted for longer than four years, it did not form part of a series of successive contracts.