Where an individual has been employed on a fixed-term contract to cover adoption leave, can the employer terminate the contract if the employee on adoption leave decides to return early?

Whether or not a fixed-term contract to cover adoption leave can be terminated if the employee returns early from adoption leave will depend on the wording of the contract. If the fixed-term contract contains provision for early termination (for example a right for the employer to terminate the employee's employment at any time during the fixed term on giving one week's notice), the employer can terminate the employment by giving the required notice.

Where there is no provision for early termination, if the contract is terminated early by the employer it will amount to a breach of contract and the employee will be able to seek damages equivalent to the unexpired portion of the fixed term. This could amount to a substantial claim if the fixed term still had a number of months to run before its expiry.