Expiry of Fixed Term Contract Does Not Count Towards 20+ Headcount

Daniel Barnett: Where a dismissal results from the expiry of a fixed-term contract, does it follow that the dismissal counts towards the threshold under s.188 of TULR(C)A 1992 whereby it is necessary to consult if 20 or more employees are ‘dismissed as redundant’?

No, held the Court of Session in University College Union v University of Sterling.

The Court of Session confirmed that the termination of a fixed-term contract amounts to a dismissal. However, when determining whether the dismissal amounts to a redundancy dismissal it is necessary to consider whether the dismissal is for “a reason not related to the individual concerned” within the meaning of s.195 of the ERA 1993.

In the four test cases before the Court of Session at least one of the reasons for the dismissal in each of them was that the employee had agreed to accept that the contract would come to an end at a particular time or on the occurrence of a particular event. The Court of Session concluded that such a reason did relate to the individuals as it had to do with their particular circumstances and their particular decisions. Accordingly, they were not dismissed as redundant and, in turn, their dismissals did not count for ‘totting up’ purposes when counting the number of people needed to trigger collective consultation requirements.

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