Understanding fixed-term contracts


A ‘fixed-term contract’ is an employment contract that ‘in the normal course’ will terminate on:

  • the expiry of a specific term
  • the completion of a particular task, or;
  • the occurrence or non-occurrence of any other specific event, except the attainment of retirement age

The key advantage is that employers can benefit from specific skills without the cost of a longer-term commitment.

Fixed-term employees have the right not to be treated less favourably than comparable permanent employees. If you do not treat fixed-term employees in accordance with their legal rights, it can lead to grievances and possibly legal action through an industrial tribunal.

Agency workers, apprentices and students on work placements are exempt from fixed-term employment regulations.

This guide explains how fixed-term employees are classified and how you must treat them. Seeking professional advice is also always a good idea in matters of employment law.