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What Is Fixed-Duration Employment?

Fixed-duration employment, often called fixed-term employment, is contractual employment for a specific period of time, such as six months or a year or for the duration of a particular project. Fixed-duration employment is distinct from open-ended or indefinite contract employment and from working as a regular employee. Fixed-duration employees are typically self-employed and work as contractors, sometimes signing multiple contracts spanning a number of years with the same employer.

Contract Worker vs. Employee

Employers often prefer to use contract workers rather than hire employees both because of the relatively high expense of employees and because the use of contract labor minimizes the employer's legal liabilities. Companies often hire regular employees as fixed-term employees for a provisional or probationary period and decide whether to make them permanent employees or let them go after six to 12 months.

Employee Status Is More Than a Contract

An employment contract is designed to describe the intended work relationship between two or more parties. However, according to the law, it's the actual work relationship that defines employment status, not the intended relationship outlined in the contract. Therefore, if your employer tells you specifically how to do your work or otherwise controls business or financial aspects of your job, or if you regularly perform key services for the company, then it's possible you could be considered an employee, even if you were hired on a fixed-duration contract basis.

Typical Fixed-Duration Employment Jobs

Individuals who work in relatively high-paying professions, such as accountants, doctors. lawyers, software programmers and other IT jobs, typically work as fixed-duration contract employees, but the trend toward contract labor is growing, and a number of other professions, including barbers, taxi drivers, nurses, security guards and personal trainers, work on a contract basis in the 21st century.

Different Rights and Responsibilities

Minken Employment Lawyers points out that there's an established set of legal rights and responsibilities that come with indefinite-term employment contracts, whereas fixed-duration contracts don't involve the same legalities, precisely because the employment is for a fixed term. The most notable legal right involved here is the right to reasonable notice of termination if you're working on an indefinite-term contract.



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