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.
The Supreme Court has held that it was objectively justified to employ teachers on successive fixed-term contracts amounting to nine years in total, and that these contracts were not converted into permanent contracts.
In Lancaster University v University and College Union  IRLR 4 EAT, the EAT held that the university failed to comply with its statutory obligations to consult collectively on the expiry of fixed-term contracts. The tribunal was also entitled to make a protective award of 60 days' pay.
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.
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