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Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003

What is a fixed term worker?

A fixed term worker is a person with a contract of employment entered into directly with an employer where the end of the contract of employment concerned is determined by an objective condition such as:

  • Arriving at a specific date
  • Completing a specific task
  • The occurrence of a specific event.

Written statement of the nature of the contract

An employer must provide a fixed-term employee with a written statement as soon as possible, outlining whether the contract will end on a specific date, following completion of a specific task or a specific event. In addition, where an employer intends to renew a fixed-term contract, a written statement must be supplied to the fixed-term employee not later than the date of renewal, setting out the objective grounds justifying the renewal and the failure to offer an open-ended contract.

The employer must include a clause stating that the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977–2001 will not apply where the only reason for ending the contract is the expiry of the fixed term, or the completion of the specified purpose.

Both the employer and the employee must sign the contract.

Renewal of fixed-term contracts

Where an employee is employed by their employer (or associated employer) on two or more continuous fixed-term contracts, the aggregate (or combined) duration of those contracts may not exceed four years. However, these rules do not apply where there are objective grounds justifying the renewal of a contract of employment for a fixed term only. Where a renewal of a fixed-term contract does not comply with these requirements and cannot be objectively justified, the

contract is treated as an open-ended contract.

The Unfair Dismissal Acts 1977–2001 contain a provision aimed at ensuring that successive temporary contracts are not used in order to avoid that legislation. Where a fixed-term or specified-purpose contract expires and the individual is re-employed within three months, the individual is deemed to have continuous service.

Employers are obliged to inform fixed-term employees of vacancies for permanent positions. This may be done by means of a general announcement. As far as is practicable, an employer is required to help a fixed-term employee to access training to enhance skills, career development and job mobility.

Only those fixed-term employees whose normal hours of work are less than 20 per cent of the normal hours of the comparable permanent employees can be excluded from entitlement to join a pension scheme.


The Act does not apply to agency workers placed by a temporary work agency at the disposition of a user enterprise; apprentices; a member of the Defence Forces; a trainee Garda or a trainee nurse. However, the Act applies to agency workers employed directly by an employment agency.

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