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expiry of fixed-term contracts and duty to collectively consult

16 January 2014

The expiry of a fixed term contract will amount to a dismissal which may be due to redundancy or ‘some other substantial reason’, but following the Court of Session’s decision in University College Union v University of Stirling, it will not necessarily be the case that the dismissal will count towards the numbers when determining whether 20 or more employees are ‘dismissed as redundant’.

The requirement to collectively consult applies where an employer proposes to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees in a period of 90 days. “Dismiss as redundant” means “a dismissal for a reason not related to the individual concerned”.

The Court held that there was no general rule that dismissal on the expiration of a fixed-term contract was for a reason not related to the individual. Where the individual entered into a contract on a voluntary basis for a specific reason, e.g. to cover maternity or to carry out a particular project, that does relate to the individual.

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