EU court rules against repeated fixed contracts for permanent work
Hiring employees on repeated fixed-term contracts to carry work of a permanent nature contravenes EU law.
That was the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the case of Spanish nurse Maria Elena Pérez López, who was employed by the University Hospital of Madrid. She began working for the hospital on July 2009 providing “certain services of a temporary, auxiliary or extraordinary nature”.
Her contract was then renewed seven times using the same wording each time until she was told in 2013 that she was no longer needed.
Ms López appealed against her dismissal on the basis that despite the wording of her contract, she carried out permanent activities rather than temporary work.
The case went to the CJEU, which ruled in her favour because her successive contracts “do not appear to relate to simple temporary needs of the employer”.
The court said: ‘It appears from the findings …that the permanent posts created are filled by the appointment of "temporary" replacement staff, without there being any limitation as to the duration of the replacement contracts or the number of renewals thereof.
“Such renewal of fixed-term contracts creates a situation of insecurity.”
Employers may wish to review their policies to ensure they do not contravene EU law, which will remain in force until Britain leaves the EU and possibly for several years afterwards.
Please contact Jackie Cuneen about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.