Duration of employment contract

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

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.

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.