Introduction to this document

Fixed-term contract expiry dismissal letter

After you’ve had a meeting with an employee to discuss the proposal to dismiss them on the expiry of their fixed-term contract, if you go ahead you can use our letter to effect it. It’s also suitable for use in relation to short-serving employees where no prior meeting has been held. 

Dismissal in writing

When a fixed-term employee has been employed continuously for two years, they accrue the right to claim unfair dismissal. So, where their fixed-term contract expires without being renewed, it’s important to follow a fair dismissal procedure. After you’ve had a meeting with the employee to discuss your proposal to dismiss them on the expiry of their fixed-term contract, and assuming you decide to terminate their employment, you’ll need to notify them in writing of the decision. Our Fixed-Term Contract Expiry Dismissal Letter will ensure you effect the dismissal decision properly. It sets out details of the termination of the fixed-term employment and the reasons why. It covers various possibilities for expiry of the fixed term without renewal, including contracts with specific end dates (such as training contracts), completion of a particular project, the return to work of the employee whose absence the fixed-term employee was covering and the cessation of external funding for the post.

Short-serving employees

Where a fixed-term employee has been employed for less than two years, they don’t generally have the right to claim unfair dismissal. This means a less onerous dismissal procedure can be adopted. However, be sure to check how long the employee has been employed in total, not just the length of the latest fixed-term contract, as it may be the last in a series of fixed-term contracts throughout which they have had continuity of employment. When dealing with the dismissal of a short-serving fixed-term employee, it’s not essential to hold a meeting with them first. Therefore, our letter contains an optional paragraph which sets out the decision to terminate employment but without reference to any earlier meeting with the employee.

Notice and appeals

Normally, a dismissal should always be on notice (or pay in lieu of notice), whichever is the greater of the contractual notice period or the statutory minimum notice period. However, with a fixed-term contract, check whether you’ve provided for it to come to an end on the expiry of the fixed term without the need for notice. If you have, no notice need be given and it will automatically terminate at the end of the fixed period. Either way, it’s safer to start the dismissal procedure early enough to include the relevant notice period before the fixed term expires. If in doubt, it’s better to give notice to the employee than to risk a wrongful dismissal claim for notice period monies. With this in mind, our letter provides that you’re willing to give the employee a particular notice period; it doesn’t set out that they’re legally entitled to it. As for appeals, an employee has no statutory right to appeal against a dismissal decision in relation to the expiry of a fixed-term contract but it’s advisable to give the employee an opportunity to appeal as part of an overall fair procedure. Therefore, this is included within our letter.