What you need to do before signing your employment contract
Starting a new job can be quite an exciting venture, especially if your new salary will be higher than what your current employer is paying. After all, more money means a better lifestyle for you, right? Who cares what the rest of the new employment contract says, right? Wrong!
When dealing with any legal document, always read and understand what you are signing. An employment contract is no different to any other legal document!
Let’s take a look at what to focus on before signing an employment contract…
Duties & Responsibilities
Always ask for a detailed job spec containing the job duties and responsibilities. Your duties and responsibilities is what defines exactly what is expected of you. It is understood that most jobs have “ad-hoc” duties as required, where the company would expect you to perform tasks, related to your job but has not yet been defined.
However, if you are unsure about what is expected of you, it leaves room for the employer to impose added duties that you may not be able to perform, or may not have capacity to perform; which will ultimately affect your job performance negatively.
Of course, you shouldn’t be someone who wants to ONLY do what your job description states. It is good to be a team player and assist your colleagues where you can.
Work Location and travelling required
It is important to know how far you will be expected to travel to work every day. You should also find out if your work requires any travel out of town.
If you do not have access to a vehicle that gives you mobility during the day, and your job is a client-facing one where you attend meetings at your clients’ premises, then you need to know how often you’ll be expected to travel, how far you’ll be travelling and for how long at a time you would be away for.
In my experience, a family-orientated candidate would have more of an issue with travelling for work, than, say, a single statues candidate.
Salary package, benefits and bonuses
Make sure that you fully understand the salary package in its entirety. Do not be afraid to ask your new employer or Recruiter to take some time to explain the full package and benefits to you. For example, your new salary package in may offer you a higher gross figure and more benefits, but because it comes out of your salary, you may end up with a lower NETT salary. You need to be able to make an educated decision on whether this is a viable option for you or not.
Salary terms that you must familiarise yourself:
Benefits (Is in included in the package or excluded in your package?)
Individual Performance Bonus
Company Performance Bonus
Can you think of any other terms?
Working hours can often affect a candidate’s decision to accept an offer. It’s best to find out about your expected working hours in the beginning. Questions to ask regarding working hours:
What are the working hours?
Are there different shifts?
Are the hours flexible?
Will I be expected to work over weekends?
Will I be paid for overtime?
Some companies’ have a compulsory shutdown period where the entire company closes down during a certain period. You will need to have accumulated sufficient annual leave to be able to take this leave.
Some companies have no shutdown period and are open throughout the year. These companies require that a certain number of staff is always at the office during the year.
Restraint of trade
Restraint of trade remains quite a controversial topic. On the one hand, you get people who say that it is not legal to put limitations on your scope to find work. On the other hand, it is a legal document that protects company secrets.
A standard restraint of trade aims to prevent you from poaching clients, or working for a direct competitor for a period of time after you have left the company.
Make sure that you understand the restraint of trade before signing it.
It is very alarming how many people do not know how long their notice period is. Depending on the seniority level or employment type (permanent employee, contract employee or temp staff) your notice period may vary. For most permanently employed candidates, a notice period is between one to three months long.
It is VERY IMPORTANT that you read an employment contract in its entirety but the points highlighted above are a few of the main points which, if you do not read, you may regret later. These are points that may affect your decision to actually accept the offer of employment at new company. Negotiate terms from the outset.
Get into the exceptional habit of reading and understanding everything that you sign.
Is there anything you would like to add? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you for reading.