How long can a fixed-term employment contract last?

Employers employing new employees usually conclude contracts with them for a definite period. However, it is worth remembering that the number of these contracts cannot be unlimited in line with the new regulations. How long can a fixed-term employment contract last?

On February 22, 2016, new provisions of the Labor Code concerning employment contracts for a definite period entered into force. According to them, such contracts of employment may be concluded with employees for a maximum of 33 months and additionally maximum for 3 months of employment on the basis of an employment contract for a trial period. When this time elapses, then only the employment contract for an indefinite period will be valid between the same employer and employee.

What provisions have been in force so far?

Jak długo może trwać umowa o pracę na czas określony?

The regulations in force so far allowed employers to permanently employ employees on the basis of a fixed-term employment contract. The new changes are to curb these abuses, which occurred very often, especially in smaller enterprises.

Until changes, if the employer has already concluded with the employee two consecutive work contracts for a definite period, the third contract had to be an indefinite contract. Nevertheless, in a situation where more than one month’s break in employment took place, the employer did not have to enter into a contract for an indefinite period.

Therefore, the introduced changes are to protect employees against such abuse, which may lead to the prolongation of contracts indefinitely, and thus the employee did not have full rights to persons employed on the basis of contracts for an indefinite period.

Which provision is currently in force

As we mentioned earlier, now the employer and the employee will have to make an indefinite contract after a certain period of time. The limitation on the number of fixed-term employment contracts is still valid – there cannot be more than three, while the fourth is to be valid for an indefinite period.

The regulations also indicate that a fixed-term employment contract may be terminated irrespective of the length at any time. The period of notice was also equalized in the case of fixed-term and indefinite contracts. If the employer’s seniority is below 6 months, then the period of notice for a definite and indefinite period is two weeks. When the internship is more than 6 months to 3 years, the period of notice is one month, while above 3 years of the internship is 3 months.


The exception contained in the new regulations concerns the employment of employees for replacement, for the period of office, for occasional or seasonal work, moreover, if the employer objectively indicates the reasons on his side. Then the limit of 33 months or 3 fixed-term employment contracts will not apply.

The employer will be able to conclude an employment contract for a trial period only once in order to become acquainted with his qualifications to perform work and the possibilities to perform it. In specific, justified cases, it will be possible to re-employ the same employee for a trial period.