Staff Contract Policy


The current contract policy, foreseeing limited-duration (LD) contracts of a maximum period five years, was implemented in 2009, shortly prior to the LHC becoming fully operational.

Following five years of experience recruiting under this policy, and with one complete LHC machine cycle of shutdown and operation, a full review of this policy was carried out in 2014.

The review concluded that the policy could be enhanced by allowing additional flexibility, particularly in the following areas:

  1. Time-to-train: In many key areas at CERN, significant effort is invested into an initial training period. Extending LD contracts could increase the return on the investment for the Organization for positions where this longer training period is necessary.
  2. Flexibility: The current policy is a ‘one size fits all’ duration of five years, however with the LHC machine cycle also spanning five years, this contract duration may not necessarily be  ideal in maximising competency transfers, for example between LS1 and LS2. Also, some rotational posts may be better suited to shorter durations, whereas other posts with longer knowledge transfer requirements would be better suited to longer durations.
  3. Increased attractiveness: Career prospects have been a significant reason for declined employment offers at CERN.  Offering the possibility of longer contract durations could help to increase CERN’s attractively as an employer, particularly for experienced mid-career hires.
  4. Retention of expertise: The combination of the current age demographics and the commitment made at Council to maintain the number of indefinite contracts at a certain level would potentially strongly reduce the number of indefinite contracts that the Organization is able to offer. The ability to offer longer LD contracts ultimately enables the Organization to offer a higher retention rate, especially in those fields of expertise in which we are experiencing recruitment difficulties, and without overrunning the IC ceiling.  
  5. Cost effectiveness: Each LD recruit generates a set of fixed overheads costs, including recruitment, installation and end-of-contract indemnities. A longer contract duration would therefore increase cost effectiveness in cases of extensions.

As from 31 March 2015, whilst the Organization will continue to offer initial LD contracts of no more than five years, the new policy will provide for an additional flexibility allowing the extension of contracts up to a maximum total duration of eight years. Contracts however will not be automatically extended and, given the current workforce planning constraints, only a small number of extensions are expected this year.

The award of indefinite contracts will continue to be subject to the outcome of a competitive process. 

Detailed information regarding the new contract policy is available on the Admin e-guide or from your Human Resources Adviser.

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