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. This guide explains the rights of fixed-term employees, fixed-term employment benefits and fixed-term contracts and statutory employment rights.

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

This guide explains fixed-term contracts and the equal treatment principle and fixed-term contracts and less favourable treatment. In addition this guide outlines the redundancy rights of fixed-term employees, limiting the use of successive fixed-term contracts and informing fixed-term employees about permanent vacancies. Seeking professional advice is also always a good idea in matters of employment law.