These words describe the length of a contract:
Permanent – Usually means no end date on the contract, i.e. the employee is employed until they reach retirement age or the employment is terminated for some other reason.
Fixed term – The contract is only for a certain period, which is agreed to at the start. Perhaps the contract will be renewed, perhaps not. There is no guarantee of employment afterwards.
These words describe the type of contract:
Normal – Ok, so you wouldn’t be talking about a ‘normal’ contract, or ‘normal employee’ per se, but this is what an employee is if they aren’t casual. They are normal. They get all the benefits of being an employee at the organisation.
Casual – Usually a short term contract, but there are no benefits granted that a normal employee would receive (i.e. leave, medical insurance, public holidays, bonuses). You work, you get paid, you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Perhaps the wage includes some compensation for the benefits you don’t receive.
These words describe the hours worked:
Full Time – A full work week. In Australia this usually means a 37.5 hour work week (5 x 7.5 hr days).
Part Time – A number of hours that don’t tally up to the normal work week’s total.
May the serenity be with you, when you are facilitating a round of recruitment, or new starter’s contract, and yet another person can’t quite tell you what they want or need. And I hope you’re able to take the opportunity to use a really simple issue like HR terminology, to show your expertise and capability in your field, and gain their respect as you empower them to speak the lingo. Your patience and approachability with such a basic thing, will be really appreciated.