An employee was hired on a fixed term contract, however, soon after they were absent on grounds of sickness and the medical certificates submitted indicate a serious mental health issue with sick leave likely to extend for the foreseeable future. A three month probationary period applies to all new employees and no sick pay is given during the probationary period. Can the company dismiss on grounds of capability whilst the employee is absent on sick leave?

Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A NI on 6 May 2014
Emma-Jane Flannery
Arthur Cox

In issuing fixed term contracts, employer should be aware of the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002. These essentially give fixed-term employees the right not to be treated less favourably than their full-time comparators unless the treatment can be objectively justified by their employer. This extends (amongst other examples) to treatment in relation to the terms of the employee's contract, the opportunity to receive training and the opportunity to be informed of vacancies for permanent employment with the employer.

Dismissal of

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Back to Q&A's This article is correct at 02/09/2015

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Emma-Jane Flannery
Arthur Cox

The main content of this article was provided by Emma-Jane Flannery. Contact telephone number is 028 9023 0007 or email

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