Remote worker reviewing their indefinite employment contract on laptop

Indefinite Employment Contracts: Everything Global Employers Should Know

Table of Contents

Employee arrangements vary worldwide, but a compliant employment contract is required no matter your talent’s location. While the type of contract depends on employer needs and resources, indefinite contracts are the most common agreement outside of the United States.

Read this guide to learn the pros and cons of indefinite contracts, what to include in an indefinite contract, alternative contract types, and how to ensure compliant contracts for your global talent.

What is an indefinite contract?

An indefinite employment contract, or permanent contract, is a type of employment contract that does not have a specific end date. Under an indefinite contract, an employee works for an employer until either party terminates the agreement.

As emphasized in the name, an indefinite contract underlines that the employer and employee want to work together indefinitely. Businesses use indefinite contracts to invest in and retain long-term employees in ongoing positions.

Benefits of indefinite contracts

Indefinite-term contracts offer many benefits to both employees and employers.

For employees, indefinite employment provides guaranteed wages and benefits explicitly outlined in the contract, such as paid vacation, paid leave, and notice of termination clauses. Indefinite contracts also offer employees better job security and financial stability.

Additionally, indefinite contracts help employers retain employees longer, lowering recruitment costs and staff turnover. Indefinite contracts also boost employee morale and drive employee loyalty to the business—leading to improved productivity and performance.

Disadvantages of indefinite contracts

Despite their benefits, indefinite-term contracts also present unique disadvantages.

For employees, indefinite contracts provide less freedom to choose their work schedule, try different types of work, or switch career paths.

For employers, indefinite contracts present additional employee costs, like competitive benefits and severance. They also make it difficult to quickly terminate talent without lengthy notice periods. Plus, if an employer seeks to hire talent in various countries, they must also navigate country-specific labor laws and craft compliant contracts accordingly.

Chart listing the pros and cons global employers face when using indefinite employment contracts

What to include in an indefinite contract

Creating compliant employment contracts is critical to protecting your business and employees. It requires extensive due diligence, and each should be as thorough as possible while adhering to country-specific employment laws.

While requirements differ from country to country, indefinite contracts should generally include the following:

  • Job description, work hours, and location
  • Salary and benefits
  • Social security
  • Vacation, public holidays, sick leave, and other leave policies
  • Probation period
  • Discipline process
  • Dismissal process including a notice period and severance policies
  • What constitutes “just cause”
  • Collective bargaining, if applicable
  • Any other legally required language

Statutory benefits, probation periods, notice periods, and severance pay also vary per country. Employers must verify with local labor laws to ensure their indefinite employment contracts include all required conditions based on employees’ locations.

How to terminate an indefinite contract

The employer or employee may terminate an indefinite employment agreement as long as the termination follows the rules of the contract and local employment regulations. Indefinite contracts are often terminated due to the following circumstances:

  • Lawful termination by the employer
  • Employee resignation
  • Employee retirement
  • Permanent business closure

Indefinite vs. at-will employment

Most professional relationships outside the U.S. operate under indefinite employment, which presents strict employee protections around termination. Employers must give lengthy notice before terminating employees, provide government-mandated severance payments, and may be required to prove the termination cause in court.

By contrast, most professional relationships in the U.S. operate under at-will employment, which allows employers or employees to terminate employment at any time without reasonable notice or severe consequences. At-will employment is much less secure for talent and employers.

Other types of employment contracts

While indefinite contracts are the most common type of employment contract used worldwide, other types of international employment contracts may better suit the unique needs of an employer or employee. We explore a few examples below.

Fixed-term contract

A fixed-term contract, also known as a definite contract or limited-term contract, has an established expiration date as formally recorded in the agreement—or it ends when a specific project is complete. A fixed-term employee receives the same salary and benefits as an indefinite employee in the same role.

Fixed-term employees bring new skills and knowledge to a company or give the employers more staff support during a busy period.

Temporary contract

Temporary contracts allow employers to hire temporary talent to meet specific needs or busy periods. Temporary talent does not receive benefits, and services end after the contract’s agreed-upon term. Employers typically hire temporary employees to fulfill short-term needs.

While contract duration may differ per country, the limited term of a temporary contract typically lasts up to six months.

Casual contract

A casual contract, or sometimes called a zero-hour contract, puts talent on standby to perform services for an employer. A casual contract can be indefinite or limited-term but typically does not guarantee hours, frequency, or employment expectations. Casual employment contracts help employers when they can’t predict the time they need work completed or when they need it done quickly.

Self-employment contract

A self-employment contract is an agreement between an employer and a self-employed individual or contractor. Self-employed contractors offer flexibility for businesses to engage talent for a specific project or skill without the costs and time it takes to onboard a full-time employee. Contractors are not entitled to benefits or severance pay.

Learn more in our complete guide: Types of Employment Contracts

Challenges of drafting international employment contracts

Unfamiliar regulations present global compliance challenges for employers who lack country experience and knowledge. Some challenges employers face when drafting international employment contracts include the following:

  • Varying employment contract requirements. Jurisdictions have unique regulations for employment contract establishment, such as accepted languages and written versus verbal agreements.
  • Varying statutory entitlements. States and countries also have different employee rights and benefits requirements, including leave entitlements and severance policies.
  • Talent misclassification. Employees who are misclassified as contractors are denied their entitlements to benefits and other legal protections. If worker classification occurs, the employer is liable for unpaid taxes, employee back pay, and legal fines.
  • Collective bargaining agreements. Some countries require that the employer sign a collective bargaining agreement—a legally binding agreement between an employer and a union representing local workers—as part of the employment contract.

Ensure compliant indefinite contracts for your global talent

Employment contracts are tricky—especially when you're hiring international talent. Companies can avoid the complexity and compliance risks by partnering with an employer of record (EOR).

An EOR like Velocity Global serves as the legal employer of your global talent, drafting and managing compliant international contracts on your behalf. An EOR also handles onboarding, payroll, benefits, HR support, and risk mitigation so you can quickly engage global talent without the burden of entity establishment or navigating complex employment laws.

Learn more: What Is an Employer of Record (EOR)?

Or contact Velocity Global to learn how we can help you quickly and compliantly hire, retain, and support your international talent with peace of mind.


Disclaimer: This information does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or tax advice and is for general informational purposes only. You should contact your attorney or tax advisor to obtain legal and/or tax advice with respect to your particular situation. Only your individual attorney or tax advisor can provide assurances that this information—and your interpretation of it—is applicable or appropriate to your specific situation. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on this information is hereby expressly disclaimed. All content is provided "as is," and Velocity Global makes no representations or warranties concerning this information. 

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