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Normal fairness test applies for dismissal due to non-renewal of fixed-term contract

Makbool Javaid

Where a fixed-term contract expires and is not renewed, that is a dismissal in law. In Royal Surrey County NHS Foundation Trust v Drzymala, Drzymala (D) was employed on a series of fixed-term contracts from 2011 to 2014, when it was not renewed. The EAT upheld an ET’s finding that the dismissal was unfair because an alternative position that had existed when D was working out her notice had not been offered to her. Dismissals by non-renewal of a fixed-term contract are likely to be potentially fair for “some other substantial reason” but are not a special case attracting different considerations from those ordinarily considered under ‘reasonableness’ in S.98(4) of the Employment Rights Act. In this case the ET did not err either by substituting its own view for that of the employer on the issue of fairness, nor by placing too high a burden on the employer when deciding that it should have offered to discuss possible alternative employment with the employee.

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