In general employees of the government are hired for an indefinite time with exceptions of temporary engagements or on hourly bases. If not specifically stated the employment contract is considered to be for an indefinite time. In this section we will describe the rules for both the public and private sector concerning trial periods, temporary employments, and fixed term employments. Finally, we will describe the steps taken in appointing and hiring civil servants.


  • Trial periods

    A trial period is not defined by rules or regulations. In most collective agreements affiliated to BSRB you will find a clause on termination during trial time. In the collective agreement between Sameyki,union of publci servants, and the State, there is a clause rule 16.11: “The mutual termination notice during the trial period is one month. The trial period is three months unless otherwise stated.”

    This means that it is possible to negotiate differently in the terms of agreement, that is that the trial period could be shorter or longer. In general trial periods should not exceed six months.

  • Temporary employment

    The aim of the laws on temporary recruitments no 139/2003 is to ensure that employees with a temporary contract have the same rights as employees that are hired for an indefinite time. The law applies to employees both in the public and private sector.

    In the 4th article of the legislation, it states that employees with temporary contracts shall not receive less saleries or other benefits than employees with an indefinite contract . A different treatment needs to be be justified on objective grounds.

    In the 5th article it states that a temporary contract may not extend continuously beyond two years. It is permitted though to extend a managerial fix-termed contract that is for four or more years and is then extended by the same numbers of years as the contract states. The employer shall seek to recruit for and indefinite time. A new contract of employment is considered valid when extended or when a new temporary one is agreed on between the same parties within six weeks from the former contract is completed.

    Employers are obliged to inform the temporary employee about vacancies within the company/establishment to ensure that they have the same opportunity to secure a permanent position as other workers.

    They shall also be encouraged to attend educational courses to improve their skills as stated in the 6th of the act.

     In the act of Government employees there is a clause on fixed term hiring and so is in most collective wage agreements of local authority’s employees.

    In the same act it says that an employee may be hired on a temporary basis. Such an employment contract may contain a clause saying that the contract can be terminated by either party before the expiry of the contract. A fixed-term contract may not extend continuously beyond two years (article 41).

  • Termination of a fixed-term contracts

    Members of affiliated unions of BSRB frequently seek for assistance because of termination of fixed-term contracts. It is important to keep in mind that those contracts cannot be terminated unless there is a clause in the contract stating that. If that clause does not exist in the contract, it is not terminable and can only end with a joint agreement or at the end of the fixed term.

    A fixed-term contract cannot be terminated unless it is stated in the contract. The nature of the contract is that they have a certain duration, and the job terminates at the expiry of the contract. If it has not been negotiated before signing of the wage agreement, it is prohibited to terminate fixed-term contracts.

  • Part time jobs

    Generally, part time workers are not specially addressed in wage agreements, except in context with for example holiday allowances and personal premium that is paid in the proportion of the employment. A Law on Part-Time Workers No, 10/2004 was set to protect the rights and to prevent discrimination for part time employees.

    The 4th article states that employees in part-time jobs may not receive proportionately less favourable terms or be subjected to less favourable treatment than comparable full-time employees on the ground that they are not employed full-time, unless it is justified on objective grounds. The law also approaches the duties of the employer which shall such possible endeavour to:

    1. Consider the wishes of the employee to move from full-time to part-time or from part time to full time.
    2. Consider the wishes of the employee to increase or decrease his job percentage, should that be practical.
    3. Facilitate access to part-time work in all areas of the company or organization, including highly skilled jobs and managerial positions.
    4. Provide timely information on vacancies at work, including part-time, to facilitate the transfer from part-time to full-time work and vice versa.
    5. Facilitate access of part-time workers for vocational education and training, among other things.
    6. Provide union representatives information about part-time work in the workplace.

    According to articles 3 and 4 in the Act, it is not valid reason for termination by itself that an employee refuses to leave a full-time job for a part-time job or vice versa.

    Termination is not considered contrary to this Act if it is in accordance with other laws, collective wage agreements or practice, and is caused by other reasons such as operational needs of the organization. The employee might be entitled to compensation according to article 5 if the employer violates these laws.

  • Appointments of civil servants

    According to the Constitution of the Republic of Iceland no 33/1944 article 20 the President appoints public officials as provided by law. The President may remove from office any official whom he has appointed. The President may transfer officials from one office to another provided that their official remuneration is not reduced, and that they have an option between such transfer and leaving office. No person may hold public office unless he has an Icelandic nationality. Each public official shall take an oath or pledge to uphold the Constitution.

    The full list of civil servants can be found in Article 22 in the government employmeee act no 70/1996. They are appointed for a fixed term of five years at a time, unless otherwise stated by law. When an individual has been appointed to a post, they shall be informed no later than six months before the term of appointment expires whether the post is going to be advertised as vacant. If this is not done, the term is automatically extended by five years, unless the person wishes to resign.

  • Appointment to a post

    When a person is absent for an extended period due to illness or dies during his or her period of appointment. The appointing authority may temporarily appoint another person to the post, although no longer than for a period of one year. A person may also be temporarily appointed to a post for a trial period before being permanently appointed, for one year at a time, although never longer than two years. The temporary appointee enjoys the same rights and carries the duties as all civil servants.

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