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Guidance

What is a fixed term contract?

A fixed-term contract of employment is defined as a contract of employment which: has a definite start and end date, or terminates automatically when a particular task is completed, or terminates after a specific event or project is concluded. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is committed to using permanent contracts of employment as the norm, with fixed-term contracts only being used where necessary and appropriate. Furthermore, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is committed to treating those employed on fixed-term contracts no less favourably than its permanent employees (unless this can be objectively justified).

Who does the Fixed Term Contract Policy apply to?

The policy applies to all individuals who work under a fixed term contract of employment (i.e. for a specific time that is fixed in advance; or terminates on the completion of a particular task; or terminates on upon the occurrence or non-occurrence of any other specified event).

When should Fixed Term Contracts be used?

In certain exceptional circumstances, fixed-term contracts may be a valuable tool to enable managers to cover short-term gaps in essential services, enabling consistent standards of service to be maintained. Fixed Term Contracts should only be used for a time limited, short term option of less than 2 years (unless objectively justified). Examples of where Fixed Term Contracts may be used are:

  • Protecting posts for staff due to organisational change
  • Covering leave (e.g. sickness, maternity leave)
  • Project or research posts
  • Posts which are not funded on a recurring basis
  • Backfill for short-term secondment

Useful information when advertising for a Fixed Term Contract

The duration of the contract must be clearly defined and the reason for the fixed-term nature of the post.The fixed-term nature of the post should be clearly evident in the advertisement, job information pack, letter offering employment and subsequent contract of employment. It should also be discussed at interview.

Where existing permanent employees apply for a fixed-term contract, and where NHS GG&C does permit such an appointment, it must be made clear (in writing) to the employee that in doing so their existing permanent contract has come to an end, and their new contract is fixed-term.

Where there is a need to make the post permanent

Where there is a requirement to make the post permanent the post should be advertised in the normal way. Where successive fixed-term contacts apply staff may be automatically appointed to the post in line with the criteria in Section 6.2 of the policy.

Process to be followed for non-renewals of Fixed Term Contracts

Where it is known that an employee’s fixed term contract will not be renewed upon expiry, the relevant manager with the authority to dismiss must meet with the employee, ideally three months prior to the expiry date of the contract to discuss the following:

  • Confirm that the fixed term contract will not be renewed and to confirm the grounds for non renewal
  • To serve the employee with notice in line with their contract of employment and that their contract will be terminated on its expiry date
  • To advise the employee that they will be placed on the redeployment register, and to discuss the redeployment process. The employee should be advised that they will remain on the register until date of the fixed-term contract
  • To confirm where appropriate, any redundancy payment which will apply should suitable alternative employment not be obtained.
  • To discuss any other matters in preparation for the termination date.
  • For those with service under 2 years, or where it is known that the contract will not be renewed within 3 months of the date achieving 2 years service, if the employee had not secured an alternative post prior to the end of their notice period, their employment will be terminated at the end of their contract period.
  • Employees in excess of 2 years service (with successive Fixed Term Contracts) will be appointed onto a permanent contract where the following criteria is met in full:
  • The employee has held fixed term contracts consecutively which were used to protect posts for permanent staff due to planned organisational change, service reconfiguration or redeployment, and
  • The member of staff has been employed for more than 2 years, and
  • Recurring funds for the post beyond the two-year period exist, which can be used to retain the member of staff, or a positive risk assessment has been carried out to establish the impact on the organisation should it be non-recurring funding.
  • (In situations where an employee achieves two years’ service, and it is known that the contract will not be renewed within three months of the date of achieving two years’ service, the individual’s contract of employment will remain fixed term).

The material contained in this section is management guidance, rather than guidance that has been agreed in partnership.

The HR Support and Advice Unit can be contacted on 0141 278 2700 if you have any further questions or need advice on this policy area.