The open-ended contract is the normal form of employment contract, concluded between an employer and an employee, with no time limit.
By definition, it does not stipulate the date on which it will end. It may be terminated by unilateral decision of either the employer (dismissal for personal or economic reasons, retirement), or the employee (resignation, retirement), or for a reason external to the parties (an irresistible external event that makes it impossible to continue the contract). It may also be terminated by agreement between the two parties under the contractual termination clause introduced by Law 2008-596 of 25 June 2008.
The employer must therefore resort to this type of contract, unless he can justify a situation that authorises the use of another type of contract (in particular a fixed-term contract or a temporary employment contract).
This type of contract may be concluded in writing or may, for full-time permanent contracts, be the result of a verbal agreement between the employer and the employee (unless there are legal or contractual provisions to the contrary). However, the employer must inform the employee in writing of the essential elements of the employment relationship: the identity of both parties, the place of work, the job held, the remuneration.
The probationary period, often provided for in the collective agreement, is included in a specific clause in the contract. In fact, it is only valid if it is written down and fixed, in principle and duration, as soon as the employee is hired.
The parties are free to include any clauses on which they agree in the contract, except for those contrary to the mandatory provisions of the laws and regulations (discrimination clauses, for example) and to those of the branch agreement applicable to the company.
It must also be noted that the conditions of a dismissal are constrained by law. In particular, although the dismissal has its origin in a unilateral juridical act from the part of the employer, it is conditioned by the general notion of the existence of a “real and serious cause” (Code du Travail, art. L1232-1 et L1233-2).