Last edited 24 Sep 2019

Limited appointment

Office workers.jpgA limited appointment is an appointment for a limited period of time and therefore must be regarded as temporary. The hirer should make it very clear that the appointment is not permanent so the prospective employee understands the situation they are getting in to. The hiring process should be fair and non-discriminatory.

Limited appointments may be necessary to:

  • Meet temporary project needs – i.e an interim solution.
  • Fill-in for an absent full-time employee, e.g due to illness or maternity leave.
  • Gauge the employee’s suitability before entering into a permanent contract.

Potential applicants for limited appointments may come through:

  • Personal applications, having responded to a posting of some description e.g magazine advert or website alert.
  • Personal recommendation from an existing member of staff.
  • An employment agency.

Human resources (HR) departments may be required to adhere to company restrictions when it comes to hiring temporary employees. They may be bound for a limited number of hires or for a certain number of hours in a 12-month period, say, 900 hours spread over full- or part-time working.

Limited appointees may be given the right, in some situations, to convert to full-time status after a certain period of service. If they prove to be particularly efficient at what they do, they may be retained as permanent employees, having had their competence fully assessed during the initial limited period. In this way, employers can assess – risk-free – the competence of employees over an extended period of time before deciding whether they should offer them full-time positions.

Depending on the nature of the employment, limited appointees may also be able to enjoy benefits that are normally extended to permanent employees. This will vary from employer to employer but may include for example, the use of canteen and gym facilities, paid for public holidays and so on.

Temporary employees may receive higher pay than their permanent colleagues, whether they are paid a monthly salary or are paid by-the-hour.

The HR department will normally be responsible for checking that the candidates for the vacancy meet the requirements and have the stated qualifications. However, if a candidate has been sourced through an employment agency, the contract may be between the agency and the employer. It is frequently the case that this aspect of security is undertaken by the agency which will have checked the CV, the person’s character references and may also have run some background checks. In some cases, the employee’s wages and other benefits may be paid through the employment agency, making the process less complicated for the employer who will be spared the paperwork.

The term 'limited appointment' may also be used to describe a supplier that has been appointed only for a specific period, or to perform only certain activities. For example, an architect appointed only to carry out feasibility studies.

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