Fixed Term Employment Contract (Maternity and Sickness Cover)
This Fixed Term Employment Contract (Maternity and Sickness Cover) is designed to be used where an employee is taken on, on a temporary basis, to cover another employee’s absence through maternity leave or sickness. This contract can be used for a variety of different jobs where such an employee is needed.
Employers must provide workers and employees with a written statement of their main terms and conditions of employment and this is often known as a Standard Form Section One Statement.
Fixed term employees have the same minimum rights as permanent workers and are protected by the Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002. These regulations state that any clause which purports to waive rights regarding unfair dismissal or redundancy is void.
In addition to the special provisions relating to the duration of the contract, the Fixed Term Employment Contract (Maternity and Sickness Cover) contains all the usual provisions relating to sickness, holidays, remuneration, pensions and retirement etc. There is a probationary period, which can be deleted if not required.
The Pensions Act 2014 introduced a new state pension for people reaching state pension age on or after 6 April 2016, replacing the previous basic state pension and additional state pension and ending contracting out for defined-benefit schemes. This employment contract has been updated accordingly with the removal of the clause referring to the contracting out certificate.
Fixed Term – Although the contract is described as ‘fixed term’, in fact it is slightly flexible. The term of employment starts on a fixed date, which is set out in clause 4. It then continues until the person who is being covered returns to work following the end of his or her maternity leave or sick leave.
Although the fixed term contract is agreed to be temporary, the expiry of a fixed-term contract is still a dismissal from a legal point of view. Consequently, employers must ensure they act reasonably when ending the contract. Generally, such a dismissal will be fair, but it is important that the expiry of the fixed-term is the real reason for the employee's dismissal and for the employer to act reasonably in terminating the employee's employment.
The contract includes a clause which allows the employer to terminate the fixed term contract early, without facing a potential claim for damages equivalent to the pay and benefits the fixed term worker would have received up to the time the contract was due to end. Although it might seem inconsistent to give an employee a contract for a fixed period of time and also state that notice to terminate it can be given before that period of time has passed, the inclusion of this notice of early termination clause gives the employer the option, in the event of, say, a downturn in business, to terminate the fixed-term contract early without being in breach of contract. Without this notice of early termination clause, the employee is entitled to sue the employer for damages.
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Clauses with optional and alternative phrases
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