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Temporary and Fixed Term Appointments (FTAs)

Use of temporary appointments has increased in the civil service in recent years. While we always seek job security for our members, the FDA recognises, supports and advocates for those employed under non-permanent contracts.
Are you working on an FTA? This guide gives the information you need on your status, your rights, and what you can do to protect yourself.

What is a temporary appointment?

Put simply, it is any job in the civil service that is non-permanent and has an identified end date. This includes a Fixed Term Appointment (FTA) to work in a department for a set time, or a contractor arrangement to work on a specific project.

What are my rights?

Employees working for one month or more are entitled to a written statement of their terms and conditions. These will include your hours of work, place of work, holiday entitlements, sick pay arrangements and the expected termination date of a fixed-term contract.

If you are an employee on an FTA then you are covered by the Fixed-Term Employees Regulations, which give you protections under the law. Most civil servants working in temporary appointments will be covered by these regulations.

Fixed-term employees must not be treated less favourably than permanent staff. This includes the terms of their contract, access to training opportunities and access to permanent job opportunities.  Unless you are a genuinely self-employed contractor, you will be covered by the Working Time Regulations.

If you aren’t sure whether you are genuinely self-employed, get in touch with the union. Even in this instance, you may still be entitled to certain rights, which we will be able to advise you on.

Can I get redundancy compensation at the end of my contract?

If your contract expires and is not renewed, you may be eligible for a redundancy payment. The FDA have successfully won payments for members in this situation.

Am I safe from unfair dismissal?

You must have two years’ service to qualify for protections from unfair dismissal. In some circumstances, termination of a fixed-term appointment may qualify as an unfair dismissal.

Am I protected against discrimination?

You are protected by laws that prevent you being discriminated against on the basis of a protected characteristic (e.g. race, sex, sexuality, disability) or on the grounds of trade union membership, pregnancy, health and safety activities, whistle blowing or asserting your statutory rights. Unlike unfair dismissal, discrimination laws apply from the moment you start your job.

Am I entitled to a permanent contract?

Your rights to a permanent position are unfortunately limited, but if you have been on an FTA for four years then an employer must be able to justify extending the contract beyond four years without making it permanent.

If you are on an FTA you also have the right to be informed of permanent job vacancies in your department and must be given the same opportunities to apply as permanent staff.

What should I do if I think I have a claim?

If you think you might have a claim for unfair dismissal, discrimination or a redundancy payment you should contact the FDA as soon as possible, as these legal claims have strict time limits attached. Case law on temporary appointments is complex, and the union can both advise and represent you.

Can I join the FDA while working on an FTA?

Yes! We encourage all civil servants in applicable grades to join, and union membership is even more important for staff on temporary appointments. We consistently defend members on fixed-term contracts, fighting claims for them and pushing for job permanency and security.

However, if you join us after you already have an issue we cannot assist. Sign up today to ensure that you are covered.

Will joining the FDA be frowned upon?

Individuals are not obliged to disclose if they are members of a trade union. However, it is important to note we represent senior managers and professionals up to and including permanent secretaries, who are proud FDA members. Many senior staff, including former cabinet secretaries, have been active in the union. FDA membership is not an impediment to success: it is a badge of your professionalism.

“The union provided me with much-needed advice and support during a difficult situation. The FDA ensured I could continue with my work while they made representations on my behalf, and ultimately my contract was extended and thereafter made permanent. I was finding matters really difficult to cope with but the FDA supported me professionally. I would have struggled if not for the FDA’s advice and guidance and support.”
Want to add a new question to our FAQ? Submit your query to steven@fda.org.uk and help us grow our guide. 

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