Can dismissal at the end of a fixed term contract be unfair?

3rd April 2018

Dr Drzymala is a doctor who specialises in cancer and had been employed by the NHS as a locum doctor in the oncology department at the Royal Surrey County NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust) on six month contracts since September 2011.

When a permanent positon at the organisation came up Dr Drzymala applied for it, however she was not successful and was dismissed when her fixed term contract came to an end in September 2014.

She was told after the interview that more roles as a speciality doctor would be coming available. However when her contract came to an end she was not informed of any other roles or a given a right of appeal.

Dr Drzymala claimed unfair dismissal stating that the reason her contract was not renewed was due to age discrimination.

The decision

The Employment Tribunal (ET) held that the reason for her dismissal was potentially fair under some other substantial reason as the contract had expired, it was also held that it was not discriminatory. It was concluded that Dr Drzymala was unfairly dismissed however, because she had been denied the right to appeal and also the alternative roles which had been mentioned were not available to her.

The Trust then appealed this decision.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) dismissed the appeal. The EAT did confirm that alternative employment does not need to be offered to the employee at the end of every fixed term contract, but in this case, as it was mentioned previously it would have been fair to offer one of those roles to Dr Drzymala.


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