Contract types

There are many different contract types available in the UK. Contracts determine how many hours you work and what responsibilities you may have. Before signing any document, you must understand the important available options and what workers rights you have. Below, we will summarise what all the contract types are and what they mean.

Fixed-Term Contract

A fixed-term contract is offered to an employee on the basis that the contract will end at a future date. This termination could be an end of a project or covering someone who is on maternity leave or sickness. Fixed-term employees have the benefit of having all the same rights as someone on a permanent contract. However, there are other factors, such as holiday entitlement will depend on the agreement. (You can also be offered permanent position after this contract ends.) So do read the contract and see what benefits and rights you may have before signing.

Flexitime Contract

Flexitime contract is the most adaptable contract you can have in the UK. This contract is excellent for people who need to organise their work around individual needs. You will need to communicate with your employer to create a flexible work schedule. This can involve working from home or having different working start and end times. It is up to you when and how you want to work, of course, you will need your employers' permission. Traditionally flexitime contracts are offered to parents or carers, although anyone, in theory, can have this type of contract.

Temporary Contract

Temporary contracts, also known as temp contracts, are agreements that have a start and end date. However, temporary contracts can be extended and be subject to change. Despite their short-time status, under this contract, you are entitled to the same rights as all staff members, such as sick pay and holiday allowance. This type of employment is somewhat flexible, allowing you to pursue other interests or to gain experience within a specific sector. A temporary contract enables you to sample life at various organisations and to meet a range of people and to make contacts - which may help you find your next job.

Permanent Contract

A permanent contract is one of the most common types of contract. This agreement is full-time with expectations that you will work a minimum of 35 hours a week. There is greater financial and job security - in some posts; you may get pay bonuses. You are also entitled to all workers rights and can have various opportunities for training and personal development. Because this type of contract is indefinite, an agreement will be created between you and your employer. If either side of the signees' doesn't oblige to the agreed terms, this is a breach of contract, and there may be legal consequences.

Part-Time Contract

A part-time contract is similar to a full-time contract, the main difference being the agreed working hours. A part-time worker will work less than 35 hours per week. The agreed amount of hours required to work each week needs to be visible in the contract. However, you may have the option to work overtime. A benefit of this type of arrangement is that it has all the same worker rights as a full-time employee. These rights and benefits include and are not limited to, pension, holidays and training. A part-time contract offers a flexible schedule that can fit around other commitments.

Full-Time Contract

A full-time contract is almost the same as a part-time contract. The main difference being the number of hours per week you're required to work. In a full-time contract, you're expected to work 35 hours or more per week. However, working time regulations state you cannot work more than 48 hours a week unless specified in your contract. The main exceptions for working more than 48 hours is if there is 24-hour staffing, you're a member of the armed forces or the emergency services, and you work in security. If you're under the age of 18, it is illegal for you to work more than 40 hours a week.

Internship Contracts

An internship contract, also known as an intern, is generally for students between 21 and 24 years old. An internship is a work experience opportunity when the employee has training or is shadowing a colleague at a work placement. There are two types of internships;


  • An internship which is a part of a higher education course or shadowing.
  • An internship that is classed as a worker and has a contract.

The main difference between these types of internships is pay. An intern doing a work shadowing placement or for a continuation of education, by law isn't required to be paid a minimum wage. However, an intern that is a worker and has a verbal or written contract is required by law, to be paid the minimum wage. This is why you need to know your rights before starting any internship or work experience.

If you're feeling motivated, have a look at our part-time, internship, and graduate jobs on StudentJob.

Want to learn more about different types of contracts? Then have a look at zero hour contracts and apprenticeships.

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