Congratulations! After so much hard work, here you are receiving your employment contract. Maybe this is your first job or you are an experienced professional, the excitement of a new job might cause you to skim through the contract straight to the dotted line to append your signature.
Stop right there!
Depending on the experience level and industry, your job offer may come with a lengthy employment offer. While your prospective employer might pass it off as a formality, you never want to just skim and sign anything without delving into the details.
Here are 5 things to know before you sign:
Job title and duties – Before you read any further, are you signing up for the role you applied for? This may seem silly, but many employers call the same job different things internally and externally. For example, a Lead and a Manager might sound the same however the job description is different. If the title has changed since your interview, ensure the job description is familiar. Your new job title should reflect the role you’re taking on. If it’s vague, ask your employer to clarify your responsibilities and how you’ll work within your team. You don’t want to overestimate or underestimate your new role in the company.
Salary, benefits, and bonus – How much are you really getting paid? What’s the gross and what are you going home with at the end of every month? Most people confuse the gross salary for the net and are left pondering where the difference disappeared to when they get their first paycheck.
Also, some companies provide comprehensive benefits packages for their permanent employees. Some of the benefits you might be entitled to in this instance include a pension, HMO, and other diverse benefits. You might also be eligible for bonuses as part of your new role. Always ask where you are not specific and ensure that all benefits are stated on your contract
Start date, probation period, and working hours – Most employers usually just copy and paste this section, so you might want just to skim. It is important to note your start date and how long you will be on probation. Most employers use this probation period to decide if you are the right fit for the company and you also are given a chance to decide if the company is right for you.
Also, ensure that your contract lays out the terms of your work hours, will you be working the proverbial nine to five? Or is it eight a.m to six p.m? It’s normal to take on a few extra hours at your discretion but on the whole, you shouldn’t be working much more than what you’re contractually obliged to. And if you do, you need to know you’ll be compensated for your effort (or not)
Leave Allowance and other forms of leave besides annual – Everyone deserves a break so make sure that in addition to knowing your annual leave allowance, you should also know other forms of leave such as sick, casual, or study leaves. Look out for any restrictions such as particular times in the year you can’t take time off or limitations on the length of your leave. Read through your contract to know if you can roll over your leave and if your employer pays an allowance if you work during your leave.
Nondisclosure, non-circumvention, and when it’s time to go – Restrictive clauses, usually don’t apply during your time with an employer but only take effect after you choose to leave or you are terminated. However, you need to be aware of the stipulated terms before signing the contract. Will you be able to work with a competitor? Can you work for a company that does work for other competitors? How many years before you can mention the details of the projects you worked on while with your employer? And finally, how long should your notice period be before you can leave?
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