A fixed term contract, called a CDD, is used by an employer to hire an employee for a fixed and limited period. These contracts are governed by very strict rules, notably including a job insecurity allowance paid at the end of the contract.
A CDD can last a maximum of 18 months, including all contract renewals.

A CDD contract may be used to hire a replacement for an employee who is absent for any reason (leave, sickness etc.). A CDD contract may also be used to hire a replacement for an employee who has left the company definitively or who has changed position definitively within the company, while a replacement with a permanent contract (or CDI) is being recruited.

A CDD can be renewed twice, but the total duration cannot exceed 18 months. The renewal period may be longer than the initial period (for example, a CDD contract for 3 months can be renewed for a period of 6 months).

Certain positions are temporary by nature and employees are taken on using special CDD contracts termed Contrats à durée déterminée d’usage, or customary fixed term contracts, rather than permanent contracts. These contracts only apply to certain business sectors defined by law.

Nevertheless, some types of urgent work requiring immediate execution (such as the organisation of rescue or lifesaving schemes, the repair of infrastructure that represents a danger for staff or the public) may require use of a CDD contract. These are special cases.

It should be emphasised that each new CDD requires the signature of a new contract in respect of the labour code.