The law – Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003 – provides that generally an employee cannot have two or more fixed term contracts with an aggregate duration exceeding 4 years.
To renew/extend the fixed term contract then the employee must be notified in writing (no later than the date of renewal) of the objective grounds justifying the renewal/extension and an explanation as to why an indefinite period contract is not being offered.
The objective justification – will be open to challenge if a claim is made. If challenged the employer must be able to justify the failure to offer an indefinite duration contract on the basis of genuine and legitimate objectives that exist at the renewal/extension date.
The renewal must also be necessary for the business of the company. An employer is obliged to advise the fixed term employee in writing of the objective condition determining the end of the fixed term contract – for example, the completion of a specified contract or on a fixed date.
The employee has a right to refer a claim to a Rights Commissioner (or Employment Appeals Tribunal in certain instances).