The fixed-term contract (CDD) allows an employer to hire an employee for a limited period. It must be used exclusively for the performance of a temporary task, justified by the absence of an employee, or a sudden increase in activity. If a fixed-term contract can be terminated by mutual agreement, for serious misconduct or for unfitness, it can be converted into a permanent contract. There are 5 reasons for this conversion, and each has its own modalities. It is important to know your rights for the different cases you may face.

On request

It is possible to verbally request the conversion of the fixed-term contract into a permanent contract to your employer. The employer can also verbally propose a permanent contract to an employee on a temporary contract. In practice, the employer must write a letter proposing a permanent contract to the employee before the end of the fixed-term contract.

There is no obligation of form or substance. The CDI is established as soon as there is a subordination link between an employer and an employee. If it is not written, the CDI is necessarily a full-time contract. Nevertheless, in order to avoid a dispute and to show transparency, it is appreciated that the CDI is drafted with mention of the rules, obligations of each party, etc.

The permanent contract can be concluded directly after a fixed-term contract, or after its expiration.

Automatic conversion

The fixed-term contract, as its name indicates, refers to a limited period. When it expires, if it is not renewed or if no procedure is followed, it is automatically converted into a permanent contract .

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Limited renewal

Fixed-term contracts with an imprecise term, although not subject to a maximum duration, must specify a minimum duration and the event bringing the contract to an end. If this event is compromised, the fixed-term contract ends (and can be renewed as an open-ended contract)

Fixed-term contracts may be renewed twice, up to a maximum duration of 18 months. When the legal time limit is exceeded, the fixed-term contract is automatically reclassified as a permanent contract.

The fixed-term contract may be limited to 9 months in certain cases, and may be extended to 24 months in exceptional cases.

In France, a fixed-term contract is an exceptional contract. It can only be concluded for the execution of a precise and temporary task. The employee can go to the industrial tribunal to ask for a requalification of the fixed-term contract into a permanent contract , for all the following reasons:

  • The fixed-term contract put in place for a precise and limited time task, concerns in reality a permanent job.
  • A fixed-term contract for the temporary replacement of a person does not provide for a term or minimum duration.
  • The duration of the fixed-term contract exceeds the framework of the law (18 months).
  • The fixed-term contract involves work that may be classified as dangerous.
  • If it applies, the waiting period is not respected.
  • The fixed-term contract involves the replacement of a person who has been suspended as a result of a collective labour dispute.

The requalification of a fixed-term contract into a permanent contract is to be qualified with its conversion. It has a retroactive and immediate effect, i.e. the employee benefits from the permanent contract from the date of hiring, as if the fixed-term contract had never existed. This has an impact on the indemnities and the seniority of the employee.

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Absence of a written contract

The formalities of a fixed-term contract, unlike a permanent contract, require a written contract. In the absence of a written contract, the CDD will automatically be reclassified as a CDI .

If the fixed-term contract does not mention the following elements, it may be reclassified as a permanent contract:

  • Reason for use. If replacement, the name and qualification of the employee replaced.
  • Characteristics of the position.
  • Minimum duration or end date of the contract and renewal clause.
  • Title of the relevant collective agreement
  • Duration of the trial period, if any.
  • Details of the supplementary pension fund or provident fund.

This automated procedure enables the employee to recognise his or her rights quickly and to be entitled to a special requalification indemnity, at the employer’s expense.

If you are looking for a job in an international company, or working in an English-speaking sector, have a look at our article on how to prepare for a job interview in English .