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Does the employer have to give notice in the case of termination of a fixed-term contract?

The answer, unless stipulated in the employment contract or the applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement, should be negative (But this would be applicable if we are evaluating the case of a contract with a period inferior to one year).

However, the recent judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) of February 20, 2024, in Case C-715/20, marks an important milestone in the protection of the rights of workers with fixed-term contracts within the European Union (EU).

It must be remembered that the case law of the CJEU also applies directly in the courts of the Member States, as some judges often recognize, first they are Community judges and then they are judges of the specific State.

This judicial decision to apply a notice period in cases of termination of fixed-term contracts focuses on addressing and correcting systemic discrimination in the treatment of workers based on the duration of their employment contracts.

The core of the dispute is the practice of not communicating the reasons behind the termination of fixed-term contracts, a practice prohibited in cases of termination of indefinite contracts according to Polish legislation.

The plaintiff, a worker with a fixed-term contract, argued that this unequal treatment violates both EU law and Polish law, specifically in relation to the principle of non-discrimination.

The CJEU, when analyzing this case, reiterated the purpose of the Framework Agreement on fixed-term work, which is to ensure the quality of employment under these contractual terms and promote non-discrimination. The court concluded that by not being informed about the reasons for the termination of his contract, the worker is at a disadvantage, deprived of crucial information that could influence his decision to seek legal redress.

This decision underscores that the temporary nature of a worker’s contract does not justify less favorable treatment compared to permanent workers, especially regarding transparency in the reasons behind the termination of the contract. This unequal treatment is identified as an attack on the fundamental right to effective judicial protection.

However, the CJEU clarifies that the national judicial body must verify whether the worker with a fixed-term contract is actually in a comparable situation to a permanent worker within the same business framework, to apply this reasoning.

The judgment also touches on an important rule regarding the applicability of the Framework Agreement in disputes between individuals, pointing out that, although this agreement cannot be invoked directly in such cases, differential treatment violates the right to effective judicial protection, as guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

This leads the national court to refrain

from applying any national legislation that violates this fundamental principle, provided that it is not possible to interpret the law in a way that is in line with EU law.

This case not only highlights the importance of equal treatment among workers, regardless of the duration of their contracts, but also reinforces the protection of fundamental rights within the legal framework of the European Union, ensuring that national labor practices align with EU principles and values.

Likewise, it opens the door for workers to demand respect for the guarantees obtained in indefinite contracts in case of other discriminations regarding temporary contracts.

At Roji Abogados, we have a team of lawyers with multidisciplinary training and experience. Our commitment to our clients, as well as the diversity of cases we handle, keeps us in constant training and updating to take advantage of regulatory and/or jurisprudential news, and in some cases even provide creative legal solutions. If you want to know more about our way of thinking and dealing with litigation, you can contact us through the following means:


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