While most workers in Illinois are permanent employees, some work under a fixed-term employment agreement. At S.T. Legal Group in Deerfield, lead attorney Diana Servos frequently provides wise counsel relative to these agreements to both employees and employers in Chicago. She also drafts, executes and reviews such documents.
Whether you are an employer with questions about how to go about hiring a fixed-term employee or a potential hire with questions about your rights under a fixed-term employment agreement, contact S.T. Legal Group now to speak with Diana Servos. Once you connect with her you will understand why her employment law services are in such demand.
Why Clients Turn to Diana Servos at S.T. Legal Group
Diana has a well-earned reputation for efficiency, strong legal representation, and integrity. When you work with S.T. Legal Group, your case will be handled by Diana Servos herself, an Illinois employment attorney with both comprehensive knowledge of state and federal law and the powerful skill set necessary to navigate the justice system with confidence. A sharp negotiator by nature and training, she is also an agile litigator who knows her way around a courtroom.
Defining Fixed-Term Employment Agreements
Whereas a permanent employment agreement stipulates that the employment relationship will continue until either the employer or the employee terminates the employment relationship, a fixed-term employment agreement is a limited-term contract, establishing both a start and end date for employment. Under a fixed-term employment agreement, neither party can legally terminate the relationship without proper cause.
Purposes of Fixed-Term Employment Agreements
Fixed-term employment agreements can be extremely beneficial to both employers and employees under certain circumstances. Such agreements are generally used:
- To cover employers during periods that are busier than usual, such as during the holidays or particular seasons (e.g. summer for boat rentals or winter for ski resorts)
- To cover an absent employee who is, for example, out on extended maternity or family leave or for reasons of health
- To staff a large project that requires a temporary increase in employment or specialized skills
Typically, a fixed-term contract is for a few months up to a year or two, though it may sometimes be for a longer period. Fixed-term contracts or employment agreements can have an end date or stipulate that the job will end when a particular project is completed.
Under the applicable industrial regulations, fixed-term employees typically have the same rights as permanent employees (such as comparative benefits and bonuses). The one exception is if an employer has a valid reason to justify not giving a fixed-term employee a particular benefit (such as travel allowance when the employee works remotely from home).
Pros and Cons of Fixed-Term Contract
Fixed-term positions can be difficult to fill, especially when jobs are plentiful because most employees want a permanent position. Nonetheless, there are employees who like the finite quality of such contracts because, for example, they only plan to live in the area for a certain period of time, or are planning to further their education, switch careers, or start their own business.
For employers, some of the advantages of fixed-term agreements are:
- They do not have to deal with termination or dismissal periods since the time of termination is already mapped out
- They have a longer trial period to determine how helpful the employee is before deciding whether the individual is a good fit for an ongoing role in the company
- They can have the coverage they need during an extraordinarily busy period or have a stand-in for an absent employee without making a permanent commitment
- They have an employee on hand with special skills (e.g. technical, design, or writing)
to complete a particular project
For employees, some of the advantages of fixed-term agreements are that:
- Fixed-term employees have the same rights as permanent employees in terms of benefits and bonuses with the exception of benefits that do not apply, such as a travel allowance for an employee who works from home
- Fixed-term employees have the right to be treated as well as permanent employees
- Fixed-term employees who have been employed for four or more years on successive fixed-term contracts may automatically become permanent employees
- Fixed-term employees have the right to be informed by their employer of available vacancies in the company they are working for
- While working under a fixed-term agreement, any changes to the contract have to be negotiated; the employee does not have to accept any alterations employer alterations or demands
The Possible Drawbacks of Fixed-Term Employment Agreements
Besides the challenge of recruiting fixed-term employees, in some careers, fixed-term agreements present other problems, such as:
- If the employer wants to dismiss the fixed-term employee before the termination date
(This can only be done for reasons of gross misconduct) or the employee wants to leave early
- If the fixed-term employee intrudes on the cohesive unit of permanent employees and the sense of teamwork is damaged, possibly leading to the loss of other employees and instability in the workplace
Both employees and employers should be aware that fixed-term employees still working for the employer after the stipulated end date are legally considered permanent employees. For this and many other reasons, it is essential to consult with S.T. Legal to make sure that the parameters of the fixed-term agreement are clear to you.
The Illinois Workplace Transparency Act (WTA)
The Illinois Workplace Transparency Act went into effect in 2020 and is a vital component of fixed-term employment agreements. Both employees and employers must be aware of its implications. The Act was crafted to protect employees, along with consultants and independent contractors who truthfully report alleged unlawful discrimination and harassment or criminal conduct in the workplace.
Fortunately, the WTA offers protection to fixed-term employees against the evils of discrimination, harassment, retaliation claims, and wrongful termination so they can stand on an even footing with their colleagues. Although when first passed, the WTA only applied to businesses with 15 or more employees, since July 1, 2020, the WTA provides protection for employees in all Illinois companies with one or more employees. Understanding the WTA is crucial for all employees and employers in Illinois to comprehend and comply with.
Contact Our Experienced Fixed-Term Employment Agreement Attorney Today
Diana Servos is an employment attorney dedicated to protecting the rights of employees and employers alike. Contact her for more information about fixed-term employment agreements and all other issues related to employment.