Duration of employment contract - Alasivu

An employment contract is by default valid indefinitely, unless there is particular reason to define it as a fixed-term contract. An employment contract signed for a fixed term at the employer’s initiative and without justifiable cause shall be regarded as being valid indefinitely. By comparison, no particular cause need be given for an employment contract signed for a fixed term at the employee's initiative.

The employer must consider the impact of several back-to-back fixed-term contracts on the determination of employee benefits. As far as the determination of employee benefits is concerned, an employment relationship is considered to have been continuous if employer and employee have signed fixed-term employment contracts such that:

  • there have been several back-to-back contracts
  • the employment has continued uninterrupted, or
  • the employment has continued with only brief interruptions.

Consecutive fixed-term employment contracts at the employer’s initiative are disallowed when the number of contracts, their combined duration and the total employment thereby created clearly demonstrate that the employer's labour need is a permanent one.

A justifiable reason must be given if an employment contract is signed for a fixed term at the employer’s request.

What is a justifiable cause for a fixed-term employment contract?

A fixed-term employment contract at the employer’s initiative is allowable for instance because of:

  • a substitution
  • a project of fixed duration
  • a one-off task
  • seasonal work
  • an internship related to studies at an educational institution
  • the fixed term of an apprenticeship, or
  • some other characteristic of the employer’s operations or the work to be done that motivates its fixed-term nature.

No reason needed for a fixed term contract not exceeding one year for long-term unemployed persons

A long-term unemployed person can be hired on a fixed-term basis for a period of up to one year without specifying a reason for the fixed-term nature of the contract. Employees can also be given multiple consecutive fixed-term contracts of less than one year each. However, these kinds of employment contracts can be renewed no more than twice within a period of one year from the start of the first fixed-term contract. The combined length of the contracts must not exceed one year.

A jobseeker who have been unemployed for at least one year is considered a long-term unemployed. The unemployed person may have had one employment relationship of at most two weeks during this time.

A dialogue on improving the status of part-time and fixed-term employees must be conducted in the workplace

The employer must advertise any vacancies generally in the company or in accordance with the practice adopted in the workplace to ensure that part-time and fixed-term employees also have the same chances to apply for these jobs as permanent and full-time employees. The user company must also advertise any vacant jobs to agency workers in the same manner.

At the request of a part-time or a fixed-term employee, the employer must give a reasoned response on whether the regular working hours set out in the employment contract or the duration of the employment contract can be extended. The response must be given in writing within one month of the request. There are not format requirements for the response. 

However, if the number of the employer’s employees in an employment relationship does not regularly exceed 250, the response can be given within three months of the request and if the request is repeated, the response can be given orally if the grounds for the response have remained unchanged since the previous response. 

There is no obligation to give a written response if the employee has worked for the employer for less than six months or less than 12 months have passed since the previous request of the employee. No oral response is required in such situations either.