How to Work Out if a Fixed Term Contract is for You

By Kinexus on 6 September 2018

Fixed term contracts are a growing trend in employment arrangements. Whilst they appear on the rise, they can raise a number of questions and considerations for anyone looking to navigate fixed term contract opportunities.

What is a Fixed Term Contract?

A fixed-term contract is an offer of employment for a specific period or task. It can be on either a full-time or part-time basis.

As a fixed term contract employee, you will work to a set end date and be entitled to the same benefits as a permanent employee, including:

  • Annual leave;
  • Personal leave; and
  • Public holiday pay.

You may also be entitled to other permanent employee benefits including training and more.

The Rise of the Fixed Term Contract

Fixed term contracts are a middle ground for organisations.

They provide certainty to both the organisation and employee for the term they will work together whilst allowing flexibility to manage the skills needed in the long term.

Fixed term contracts can also offer the opportunity to hire someone when there isn’t approval for a permanent hire.

In a project environment, organisations are offering fixed term contracts to manage risk and diversify workforces across multiple projects being undertaken.

Fixed Term Contract Myths

Myth #1: Permanent roles are more secure than fixed-term contracts.

When business needs change, permanent positions can be made redundant. However, fixed term contracts guarantee a specified length of engagement, usually mirrored by the duration of the project.

Myth #2: Permanent and fixed term contracts are basically the same.

Organisations often make the (mistaken) assumption that a fixed term contract is just as attractive as a permanent position.

Engineers are inherently risk-averse, so the concept of signing a contract, even with a fixed term, will be difficult for some permanent focussed people to accept. Historical trends indicate this eliminates around 15% of people looking for a job.

A fixed term contract is also unlikely to appeal to career contractors who expect a higher daily rate to what will be on offer.

A person that ideally wants a permanent role, will likely remain ‘open to opportunities’ throughout the length of a fixed term contract.

3 Reasons to Consider a Fixed Term Contract

1. A fixed term contract may provide opportunities to gain experience in a new industry or project.

If you’re looking to gain experience, a fixed term contract could offer you the opportunity to do just that. By committing to a specific period of time or task you can get in, have a go and work out if it’s what you want to do ongoing.

2. Fixed term contracts can be a path to permanent employment.

If permanent employment is what you really want, a fixed term contract could be a pathway. In many cases, fixed term contracts are extended or can lead to permanent employment.

3. You will have the same entitlements to a permanent employee.

A common concern for candidates who are presented with a contract opportunity but want a permanent role is that they will not have the same benefits as a permanent employee. With a fixed term contract, you will have the same leave and payment entitlements as a permanent employee.

If you are looking for a permanent role but are presented with an opportunity for a fixed term contract, don’t dismiss it too quickly.

Take the time to consider:

  • The experience you will gain from the role. Will you learn about new technologies, methodologies or industries?
  • Is the project of special significance and will it be of interest professionally or personally and provide a benefit for future employment opportunities?
  • The opportunity to experience a new organisation and get a foot in the door and possibly provide the opportunity long term to become a permanent employee.

Given there is a shortage of skilled people across a range of engineering disciplines in the current job market, it is a more secure time to commit to a fixed term contract and take on new opportunities.

By Michael Nicolson

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