Types of employment contracts

Your employment contract could vary depending on a number of different factors…

Generally, it will be determined by how many hours you work, but that may not always be the case. And before you sign anything, it’s always vitally important to understand all the available options.

To help find out which one works best for you, here’s our guide on the different types of employment contracts:


Full-time contracts

The most common type of employment contract is full-time.

These contracts are generally offered for permanent positions, and usually set out the employee’s salary or hourly wage. Other details included within a full-time contract include holiday entitlements, pension benefits, parental leave allowances, and details on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

There is no set minimum number of hours that you must work on a full-time contract. However, most employers recognise full-time work as 35+ hours per week.

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Part-time contracts

A part-time worker works fewer contracted hours than a full-time employee.

However, they generally also hold permanent positions, and their contract contains many of the same details as their full-time counterparts. The number of hours they’re scheduled to work per week should be clearly visible within the contract, but they may have the option to work overtime, if and when desired.

Benefits of part-time employment include a more flexible schedule, allowing individuals to fit their work around other commitments, and the opportunity for people to try out new roles without having to give up vast amounts of your time.

Part-time CV template

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Fixed-term contracts

Fixed-term contracts last for a specific amount of time, which has been set and agreed in advance.

In some instances, fixed-term contracts may not include an exact timeframe, but will instead end when a specific task has been completed or fulfilled.

Fixed-term employees enjoy all of the same rights and benefits as with any other permanent contract, although factors such as holiday entitlement will depend on contract length.

Depending on the role, and an individual’s performance, fixed-term contacts can sometimes lead to longer term positions.

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Temporary contracts

Similar to fixed-term, temporary contracts are offered when a contract is not expected to become permanent.

Usually they would have some form of end date included, however, these may be subject to change. As such, temporary workers may have their contracts extended in line with demand and availability.

Despite their short-term status, temporary workers are entitled to the same rights as any other member of staff. Benefits of temporary contracts include increased flexibility, the ability to manage work around study or other interests, and building experience within a specific sector.

How to make yourself available for temp work

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Agency contracts

Agency staff have their contracts agreed and managed by a recruitment consultancy or employment agency.

They usually work on a temporary basis, and the length of their contract will depend on demand from the employer, as well as their availability.

It will be the agency’s responsibility to make sure their employees’ rights are protected. However, NI contributions and Statutory Sick Pay will be paid by the employer to the agency you work for.

After 12 weeks’ continuous employment in the same role, agency workers are then entitled to the same rights as permanent employees of the company.

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Freelancers and contractors

When working on a freelance or contracted basis, contracts may vary from position to position.

However, individuals working in this way are generally considered self-employed, meaning that it’s their responsibility to look after tax and NI contributions. Contracts may include start and end dates, or the salary may be based on set projects or pieces of work, meaning the contract effectively ends upon delivery.

Freelance and contract workers may also not be entitled to the same rights as more permanent members of staff, although they do get to manage their own schedule, and negotiate their own terms.

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Zero hour contracts

Also known as casual contracts, zero hour contracts specify that an employee works only when required by their employer.

The employer is under no obligation to provide a set amount of hours to work. And, similarly, the employee does not have to accept any work that is offered to them.

Zero hour workers are, however, entitled to the same annual leave as permanent workers, and their employer must pay them at least the National Minimum Wage to work.

Individuals on a zero hour contract may also seek employment elsewhere. In fact, their contract would not be valid if it prevented them from looking for, or accepting, work from another employer.


If you’re still not sure about your contract, visit gov.uk to find out more.


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