Maximum duration contract

Open-ended Contract/Fixed Term Contract

The open-ended contract and the fixed term contract are the two most well-known types of employment contracts. The former is concluded for an indefinite period and must be terminated by either party to end it. The second type of contract ends automatically on the agreed date.


Fixed-term and open-ended contracts have certain characteristics that may not be suitable for the employer in certain specific situations.

In the case of a fixed-term contract, the employer cannot unilaterally terminate the contract before the scheduled date. Hiring a replacement for a fixed term during an employee's unpaid leave may be risky. Under the permanent contract, the employee is protected against dismissal in case of illness, accident or pregnancy. The employer can never be sure of being able to dismiss the employee at the desired moment.

What happens when the parties want to be able to terminate a fixed-term contract early and at the same time ensure that the employment contract will end on a specific date? This may be the case when an employer hires seasonal workers and wishes to terminate the contract before the end of the season due to lack of snow... A solution exists: the maximum duration contract.

Maximum duration contract

An employment contract that is scheduled until a specific date at the latest is a maximum duration contract. It combines certain characteristics of a fixed-term contract with those of an open-ended contract.

During the term of the maximum duration contract, it will be treated as a contract of indefinite duration, with the possibility of dismissal. On the agreed date, the contract will automatically end. It will be considered as a fixed-term contract. What happens if an employee hired for a maximum period of time falls ill? The protection against dismissal is limited. 

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1 Mar, 2010 byMarianne Favre Moreillon