A Guide to Permanent Contract for Employers

permanent contract


A permanent contract is a formal agreement between an employer and an employee that outlines the terms of employment without a predetermined end date. This type of contract establishes an ongoing employment relationship, where the employee is expected to work continuously for the employer until either party decides to terminate the agreement.

Permanent contracts typically include contract, hours and pay information such as job responsibilities, salary, benefits, working hours, and termination conditions. They provide stability and security for both the employee and the employer, fostering a long-term commitment.

In this guide, we set out the rules that apply when using permanent employment contracts, with practical guidance for employers on how best to implement this type of agreement for optimum impact and risk mitigation.


Employment Type Distribution Statistic

As of early 2024, according to the ONS, approximately 74.3% of employees aged 16 to 64 in the UK were on permanent contracts. This highlights the significant role of permanent employment in the UK labour market.


Section A: What is a Permanent Contract?


A permanent contract is a cornerstone of stable employment relationships, offering security and long-term commitment between employers and employees. In the UK, these contracts play a vital role in defining the terms of employment, ensuring both parties understand their rights and obligations.


1. Definition of a Permanent Contract


A permanent contract is a legally binding agreement between an employer and an employee that does not have a fixed end date. This type of contract is designed to provide continuous employment until either the employer or the employee decides to terminate the arrangement, subject to the terms outlined in the contract. Permanent contracts cover various aspects of employment, including job duties, salary, benefits, working hours, and conditions for termination.


2. Key Features of a Permanent Contract


a. Indefinite Duration: Unlike fixed-term contracts, permanent contracts do not specify an end date, providing ongoing employment.

b. Job Responsibilities: Detailed descriptions of the employee’s role and duties within the company.

c. Compensation and Benefits: Information on salary, bonuses, health insurance, pension schemes, and other benefits.

d. Working Hours: Clearly defined working hours, including provisions for overtime, if applicable.

e. Probation Period: A specified period at the beginning of employment during which either party can terminate the contract with minimal notice.

f. Termination Conditions: Conditions under which the contract can be terminated, including notice periods and grounds for dismissal.

g. Leave Entitlements: Details on annual leave, sick leave, parental leave, and other types of statutory leave.

h. Confidentiality and Non-compete Clauses: Provisions to protect the employer’s business interests.


Employee Retention Rates Statistic

Companies with permanent contracts tend to have higher employee retention rates. Studies have shown that organisations offering permanent contracts experience an average reduction in turnover rates by up to 40%.


3. Legal Aspects in the UK


In the UK, permanent contracts are governed by various employment laws and regulations designed to protect both employers and employees. Key legal aspects include:


a. Employment Rights Act 1996: This act provides the foundation for employment contracts, outlining essential terms and conditions that must be included in the written statement of employment particulars.

Read our extensive guide to the Employment Rights Act 1996 for Employers here >>


b. National Minimum Wage Act 1998: Employers must adhere to minimum wage requirements, ensuring employees receive fair compensation for their work.


c. Working Time Regulations 1998: These regulations govern working hours, rest breaks, and annual leave entitlements, ensuring employees are not overworked.


d. Equality Act 2010: Employers must ensure that their employment practices do not discriminate against employees based on protected characteristics such as age, gender, race, disability, and more.


e. Unfair Dismissal Protections: Employees on permanent contracts who have worked for the same employer for two years or more are protected against unfair dismissal, requiring employers to have a valid reason and follow a fair process when terminating employment.


f. Statutory Notice Periods: The law specifies minimum notice periods that employers and employees must give when terminating a permanent contract, based on the length of employment.


Section B: Benefits of Permanent Contracts for Employers


Permanent contracts offer employers many advantages, including:


1. Employee Loyalty and Engagement

Permanent contracts foster a sense of security and belonging among employees. When employees know they have a stable position, they are more likely to feel valued and respected by their employer. This sense of job security translates into higher levels of loyalty and engagement. Engaged employees are more motivated to contribute to the company’s goals, often going above and beyond their basic job responsibilities. This increased commitment can lead to innovative ideas, better customer service, and a stronger competitive edge for the business.


2. Reduced Turnover and Recruitment Costs

Employee turnover can be a significant burden for employers, both in terms of financial cost and time. The process of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees is expensive and can disrupt business operations. Permanent contracts help to mitigate this issue by encouraging longer tenure among employees. With reduced turnover, companies save on recruitment costs and benefit from the continuity of having experienced staff. This stability allows for better long-term planning and resource allocation.


3. Increased Productivity and Performance

Employees on permanent contracts often demonstrate higher productivity and performance levels. The security provided by a permanent contract allows employees to focus on their work without the distraction of job insecurity. Over time, they become more proficient in their roles, gaining valuable experience and expertise. This increased proficiency leads to greater efficiency and output. Additionally, permanent employees are more likely to take ownership of their work and show a vested interest in the company’s success, further driving performance improvements.


4. Improved Company Culture and Morale

A stable workforce contributes to a positive company culture and higher employee morale. Permanent contracts help create an environment where employees feel part of a cohesive team. When employees see their colleagues committed to the company for the long term, it fosters a sense of community and collaboration. High morale is associated with numerous positive outcomes, including reduced absenteeism, better teamwork, and a more pleasant work environment. A strong company culture not only attracts new talent but also helps in retaining existing employees, creating a virtuous cycle of success.


Impact on Productivity Statistic

Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) indicates that employees on permanent contracts are 20-25% more productive compared to those on temporary or fixed-term contracts.


Section C: Permanent Contract Terms and Terminations


In the UK, employment laws and regulations provide a framework that governs these agreements, safeguarding both employer and employee rights.


1. Essential Clauses and Terms to Include in a Permanent Contract


To ensure clarity and legal compliance, it is important to include specific clauses and terms in a permanent contract. Essential elements include:


a. Job Title and Duties: Clearly outline the employee’s role and responsibilities within the company.

b. Salary and Benefits: Specify the employee’s compensation, including base salary, bonuses, benefits (such as health insurance and pension schemes), and any other financial incentives.

c. Working Hours: Define the expected working hours, including any provisions for overtime and how it will be compensated.

d. Probationary Period: Include details of any probationary period during which the employment can be terminated with shorter notice.

e. Notice Periods: State the required notice period for both the employer and the employee in the event of termination.

f. Leave Entitlements: Detail the employee’s entitlements to annual leave, sick leave, parental leave, and other statutory leaves.

g. Confidentiality and Non-compete Clauses: Include provisions to protect the employer’s confidential information and prevent the employee from working with competitors for a specified period after leaving the company.

h. Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures: Outline the processes for handling disciplinary actions and employee grievances.


2. Handling Contract Termination and Disputes


Terminating a permanent contract and handling disputes require careful adherence to legal procedures to avoid potential claims of unfair dismissal or wrongful termination. Key considerations include:


a. Valid Reasons for Termination: Ensure that any termination is based on valid reasons such as poor performance, misconduct, redundancy, or capability issues. Employers must be able to justify their decision with evidence.

b. Fair Procedure: Follow a fair procedure when terminating employment, including providing warnings, conducting investigations, and allowing the employee to respond to allegations.

c. Notice Period Compliance: Provide the appropriate notice period as specified in the contract, or pay in lieu of notice if immediate termination is necessary.

d. Redundancy Procedures: In cases of redundancy, follow the legal requirements for consultation, selection criteria, and redundancy payments.

e. Dispute Resolution: Establish clear procedures for resolving disputes, such as mediation or arbitration, and ensure employees are aware of their rights to seek legal recourse through employment tribunals if necessary.


Job Satisfaction Statistic

According to a survey by the Institute of Employment Studies (IES), employees on permanent contracts report 30% higher job satisfaction levels than their counterparts on temporary contracts.


Section D: Best Practices for Implementing Permanent Contracts


Implementing permanent contracts effectively requires careful planning and attention to detail. Transitioning employees from temporary to permanent contracts, drafting clear and comprehensive agreements, and ensuring compliance with UK employment laws are essential steps for employers.


1. Steps to Transition from Temporary to Permanent Contracts


Transitioning employees from temporary to permanent contracts involves several critical steps to ensure a smooth and legally compliant process:


Step 1: Evaluate Performance and Fit

Assess the performance and cultural fit of temporary employees to determine their suitability for permanent roles. Consider feedback from supervisors and colleagues.


Step 2: Communicate Intentions Early

Inform temporary employees of your intention to offer them permanent positions well in advance. Clear communication helps manage expectations and reduces uncertainty.


Step 3: Review Current Contracts

Examine the terms of existing temporary contracts to identify any clauses related to transition or termination. Ensure compliance with notice periods and other relevant terms.


Step 4: Negotiate Terms

Discuss and agree on the terms of the permanent contract with the employee, including salary, benefits, and any changes to job responsibilities.


Step 5: Draft the Permanent Contract

Prepare a detailed permanent contract that outlines the new terms of employment. Ensure all key elements are included, such as job title, duties, salary, benefits, working hours, and notice periods.


Step 6: Conduct a Probationary Period (if applicable)

Include a probationary period in the permanent contract if necessary, allowing both parties to evaluate the new arrangement before committing long-term.


Step 7: Provide Training and Support

Offer any necessary training or support to help the employee transition smoothly into their permanent role. This can include onboarding programmes, mentorship, or additional resources.


Cost Savings Statistic

Employers report an average of 50% savings in recruitment and training costs due to lower turnover rates associated with permanent contracts.


2. Tips for Drafting Effective Permanent Contracts


Creating a well-drafted permanent contract is crucial for setting clear expectations and avoiding disputes. Here are some tips for drafting effective contracts:


a. Be Clear and Specific: Use clear and precise language to outline the terms and conditions of employment. Avoid ambiguous or vague wording that could lead to misunderstandings.

b. Include All Essential Terms: Ensure that the contract covers all key aspects of the employment relationship, including job title, duties, salary, benefits, working hours, notice periods, and leave entitlements.

c. Tailor to the Role: Customises the contract to reflect the specific requirements and responsibilities of the position. Generic contracts may not adequately address the unique aspects of different roles.

d. Review and Update Regularly: Periodically review and update the contract to reflect changes in employment law, company policies, or job responsibilities. Ensure that employees are aware of any updates.

e. Seek Legal Advice: Consult with legal professionals to ensure that the contract complies with current employment laws and protects the employer’s interests. Legal expertise can help identify and mitigate potential risks.


Employee Engagement Statistic

Data from Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report shows that employees with permanent contracts are 29% more engaged at work compared to those on temporary contracts.


3. Ensuring Compliance with UK Employment Laws


Compliance with UK employment laws is essential to avoid legal disputes and ensure fair treatment of employees. Key steps to compliance include:


a. Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with changes in UK employment laws and regulations. Regularly review government websites, legal publications, and industry updates.

b. Provide Written Statements: Issue a written statement of employment particulars to employees within the first two months of employment, as required by the Employment Rights Act 1996. This document should outline the main terms and conditions of employment.

c. Adhere to Minimum Wage Laws: Ensure that all employees are paid at least the national minimum wage or national living wage, as applicable. Regularly review wage rates to comply with legal requirements.

d. Observe Working Time Regulations: Comply with working time regulations by ensuring employees do not exceed maximum working hours, receive adequate rest breaks, and are entitled to paid annual leave.

e. Implement Non-Discrimination Policies: Adopt policies that promote equality and prevent discrimination based on protected characteristics such as age, gender, race, disability, religion, and sexual orientation.

f. Follow Fair Dismissal Procedures: When terminating employment, ensure that the process is fair and compliant with legal requirements. Provide valid reasons, follow disciplinary procedures, and respect notice periods.


Economic Impact Statistic

The ONS reports that full-time employees on permanent contracts earn an average of 12% more than those on temporary contracts, highlighting the economic stability provided by permanent employment.


Section E: Case Studies


Permanent contracts can significantly enhance an organisation’s stability, employee satisfaction, and overall performance. The following are generalised case studies that illustrate the positive outcomes companies have experienced by offering permanent contracts.


Case Study 1: Tech Innovators Ltd

Tech Innovators Ltd. faced high employee turnover rates, leading to increased recruitment and training costs. The lack of job security in temporary contracts was causing talented employees to seek more stable opportunities elsewhere.

The company decided to transition their workforce from temporary to permanent contracts, offering additional benefits such as health insurance, pension plans, and career development opportunities.

Employees felt more secure and valued, resulting in increased loyalty and reduced turnover rates by 40% within the first year. With job security, employees were more focused and committed, leading to a 25% increase in productivity. The company’s reputation as a stable and supportive employer attracted top talent, reducing recruitment time and costs.


Case Study 2: Retail Revolution

Retail Revolution struggled with fluctuating staff levels and inconsistent customer service due to the seasonal nature of their temporary contracts. The company offered permanent contracts to key employees, ensuring a stable and experienced workforce throughout the year. They also implemented performance-based bonuses and regular training sessions.

Consistent staffing levels led to better-trained employees and a 30% improvement in customer satisfaction scores. The shift to permanent contracts cut recruitment costs by 50%, as fewer new hires were needed each season. Permanent staff also felt more invested in the company, leading to innovative suggestions and a more collaborative work environment.


Case Study 3: Financial Futures Inc

Financial Futures Inc. experienced high stress and burnout among temporary employees, affecting overall performance and client satisfaction.

The company introduced permanent contracts with comprehensive wellness programmes, including mental health support, flexible working hours, and opportunities for career advancement.

With increased job security and support, employee wellbeing improved significantly, resulting in a 20% decrease in sick leave. Stable and motivated employees provided better service, leading to a 15% increase in client satisfaction and retention. The move to permanent contracts fostered a more cohesive and positive company culture, enhancing teamwork and morale.


Case Study 4: Healthcare Heroes

Healthcare Heroes faced challenges with temporary staff turnover, which impacted patient care quality and continuity.

The organisation offered permanent contracts to healthcare professionals, along with ongoing professional development and competitive benefits.

Permanent staff provided consistent and high-quality care, leading to a 25% increase in patient satisfaction and better health outcomes.

Reduced turnover allowed for more stable teams and better coordination, enhancing overall efficiency.

Permanent contracts with development opportunities led to higher employee satisfaction and a stronger commitment to the organisation’s mission.


Diversity and Inclusion Statistic

A study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that companies offering permanent contracts have better diversity and inclusion metrics, with 25% more women and 15% more ethnic minorities in permanent roles compared to temporary positions.


Section F: Summary


Permanent contracts are essential tools for fostering a stable and motivated workforce. By providing stability and fostering a committed workforce, employers can drive significant improvements in productivity, morale, and overall business performance.

When offering permanent contracts, employers must ensure compliance with their legal obligations through lawful and effective employment contract terms and employment practices.


Section G: FAQs on Permanent Contracts for Employers


What is a permanent contract?
A permanent contract is a formal agreement between an employer and an employee that does not have a predetermined end date. It outlines the terms of employment, including job responsibilities, salary, benefits, working hours, and conditions for termination, providing long-term job security for the employee and stability for the employer.


Why should employers offer permanent contracts?
Offering permanent contracts can enhance employee loyalty and engagement, reduce turnover and recruitment costs, increase productivity and performance, and improve company culture and morale. It provides a stable and motivated workforce, leading to better business outcomes.


What legal considerations should employers be aware of?
Employers must comply with UK employment laws and regulations, such as the Employment Rights Act 1996, National Minimum Wage Act 1998, Working Time Regulations 1998, Equality Act 2010, and unfair dismissal protections. Contracts should include essential clauses and terms to ensure legal compliance and protect both parties.


How can employers transition employees from temporary to permanent contracts?
Employers can transition employees by evaluating performance, communicating intentions early, reviewing current contracts, negotiating terms, drafting new contracts, conducting probationary periods if necessary, and providing training and support.


How can employers ensure compliance with UK employment laws?
Employers can ensure compliance by staying informed about legal changes, providing written statements of employment particulars, adhering to minimum wage laws, observing working time regulations, implementing non-discrimination policies, and following fair dismissal procedures.


What are the benefits of permanent contracts for employees?
Permanent contracts provide job security, consistent income, and access to benefits such as health insurance, pension schemes, and professional development opportunities. This stability can lead to higher job satisfaction and commitment to the employer.


How do permanent contracts impact company culture?
Permanent contracts contribute to a positive company culture by fostering a sense of community and teamwork. Employees who feel secure in their positions are more likely to collaborate effectively and support each other, leading to improved morale and a more cohesive work environment.


Can permanent contracts include a probationary period?
Yes, permanent contracts can include a probationary period, typically at the beginning of employment. This period allows both the employer and the employee to assess their fit for the role and decide whether to continue the employment relationship.


How should employers handle contract termination and disputes?
Employers should handle terminations and disputes by following fair procedures, providing valid reasons for termination, complying with notice periods, and establishing clear dispute resolution processes. Legal advice may be sought to ensure compliance with employment laws and minimise the risk of claims.


Health and Wellbeing

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that employees on permanent contracts have 20% fewer work-related stress and mental health issues, likely due to job security and stability.


Section H: Glossary


Permanent Contract: A formal employment agreement with no predetermined end date, providing long-term job security for the employee and stability for the employer.

Employee Loyalty: The commitment and dedication an employee shows towards their employer, often resulting in longer tenure and higher engagement.

Employee Engagement: The emotional and psychological commitment an employee has towards their organisation, which influences their motivation and performance.

Turnover Rate: The rate at which employees leave an organisation, often expressed as a percentage of the total workforce.

Recruitment Costs: Expenses associated with hiring new employees, including advertising, interviewing, and training.

Productivity: The efficiency and effectiveness with which employees perform their job duties, often measured by output per hour worked.

Company Culture: The shared values, beliefs, and behaviours that shape how employees interact and work within an organisation.
Morale: The overall mood, attitude, and satisfaction of employees within the workplace.

Employment Rights Act 1996: UK legislation that outlines the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees, including the requirement for written statements of employment particulars.

Read more about the Employment Rights Act 1996 here >>

National Minimum Wage Act 1998: UK law that sets the minimum wage that employers must pay their employees, varying by age and other factors.

Working Time Regulations 1998: UK regulations governing working hours, rest breaks, and annual leave entitlements to prevent excessive working hours.

Equality Act 2010: UK legislation that protects employees from discrimination based on protected characteristics such as age, gender, race, disability, religion, and sexual orientation.

Unfair Dismissal: Legal protection that prevents employees from being dismissed without a valid reason and fair procedure, applicable to those with at least two years of continuous employment.

Notice Period: The length of time an employer or employee must give before terminating employment, as specified in the employment contract.

Probationary Period: An initial period of employment during which either party can terminate the contract with shorter notice, allowing for assessment of the employee’s fit for the role.

Confidentiality Clause: A contract term that restricts employees from disclosing proprietary or sensitive information belonging to the employer.

Non-compete Clause: A contract term that prevents employees from working with competitors or starting a competing business for a specified period after leaving the company.

Disciplinary Procedures: Processes and steps outlined by an employer to address employee misconduct or performance issues.

Grievance Procedures: Processes that allow employees to raise and resolve complaints or concerns about their employment or workplace conditions.

Redundancy: A situation where an employer needs to reduce the workforce because a job or jobs are no longer required, often leading to layoffs.

Statutory Leave: Legally mandated leave entitlements, such as annual leave, sick leave, and parental leave, that employers must provide to employees.

Mediation: A form of dispute resolution involving a neutral third party to help resolve conflicts between employers and employees.

Arbitration: A form of dispute resolution where an impartial arbitrator makes a binding decision to resolve a conflict between employers and employees.

Employment Tribunal: A legal body in the UK that resolves disputes between employers and employees regarding employment rights and conditions.


Section I: Additional Resources


Acas Guidance on Employment Contracts
This resource provides detailed information on different types of employment contracts, including permanent contracts, and offers advice on what to include in them.


GOV.UK Employment Contracts: An Overview
The UK government’s official website offers a thorough overview of employment contracts, including permanent contracts, covering key aspects such as written statements of employment particulars and contract terms.


GOV.UK Written Statement of Employment Particulars
Information about the legal requirement for employers to provide written statements to employees.


Citizens Advice Bureau
Citizens Advice provides practical advice on understanding employment contracts, including the rights and obligations of both employers and employees.


CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)
CIPD offers resources and guidance on employment law, including detailed information on employment contracts and how to manage them.



Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing & Content Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

Legal disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.