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Employment Act 2002

Section 45: Fixed term work

109.At the time of publication, fixed term employees are protected by statutory employment rights in the same way as permanent employees, with a few exceptions. However, whereas part-time workers are now protected by legislation preventing them from being less favourably treated than comparable full-time workers, no such provision currently exists in respect of fixed term employees. There are also no restrictions on the use of successive fixed term employment contracts in UK law at the time of publication.

110.Directive 1999/70/EC concerning the framework agreement on fixed term work was agreed on 28 June 1999 and is due to be implemented in the UK in 2002. The purpose of the framework agreement is to apply the principle of non-discrimination to those in fixed term employment and to establish a framework to prevent abuse arising from the use of successive fixed term employment contracts or relationships. The Government takes the view that, on account of its legal base, this directive does not apply to pay and pensions. However, a public consultation on Fixed Term Work (May 2001) revealed that significant pay disparities exist between fixed term and permanent employees and the Government intends to prevent pay and pensions discrimination against fixed term employees, in addition to implementing directive 1999/70/EC.

111.This section introduces a power that places a duty on the Secretary of State to make regulations preventing less favourable treatment of fixed term employees and preventing abuse arising from the use of successive periods of fixed term employment.

112.The section places a duty on the Secretary of State to make regulations in respect of fixed term employees. These regulations will implement directive 1999/70/EC and prevent pay and pensions discrimination against fixed term employees. A transposition note setting out how the Government will transpose the main elements of this Directive into UK law is available on the DTI website.

113.In particular, these regulations may:

  • Prevent less favourable treatment of fixed term employees as compared to permanent employees

  • Specify circumstances in which fixed term employment is to have effect as permanent employment

  • Specify circumstances in which fixed term contracts are to be taken to be successive

  • Specify classes of person taken to be fixed term and permanent employees

  • Specify circumstances in which fixed term employees are taken to be, or not to be, treated less favourably than permanent employees

  • Amend provisions in specified enactments of primary legislation that allow for some or all fixed term employees to be treated less favourably than permanent employees.

114.The affirmative resolution procedure applies to the making of regulations under this section.

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