5 things to check before signing an employment contract

July 8, 2021

Source: Pexels/sora-shimazaki

As an employee, you need to have a clear understanding with your employer before entering into an employment contract. A written contract is important for setting out the employer's liabilities as well as your roles, responsibilities, and job security. 

Before you sign a new job contract, you need to thoroughly check key details to ensure your employment contract has everything required. Details of employment usually vary from one company to another, and stipulations of what is expected also vary. Here are five things you should check before signing a new job contract. 

1. Job title and duties 

You need to review the job title and duties as indicated in the employment contract. The duties should match the ones stated in the job description posting.

It would be surprising to see different job duties and responsibilities from the ones you applied and interviewed for, but if you notice significant discrepancies, you should discuss them with the hiring manager or the human resources manager before signing the contract. If the indicated changes are not aligned with your skills or work ethic, make sure you mention this to the employer before signing the contract.


2. Salary and benefits

You need to check whether the remuneration package in your contract matches the one offered in the offer letter. Check the payment methods available and the dates salaries are released. 

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, healthcare insurance, and other diverse benefits. You might also be eligible for bonuses as part of your new role. 


3. Start date and working hours

If you're switching jobs, you need to ensure that the new job's starting date doesn't coincide with the date you're supposed to leave. Make sure you have enough time to sign off from your previous job before starting work with another organisation. 

Once you make sure that the starting date is appropriate, check the working hours mentioned in your job contract. For contractors, you don't have to worry about the number of working hours because you're able to set your own working time. As you accept or deny work requests, you're in control of the time you intend to allocate to the company hiring you. For employees, working hours should match your expectations and designation. This helps you to remain productive and stress-free. 


4. Holiday pay and sick leave 

As with everything else, you need to take regular breaks once you begin the new job. Before signing the contract, check the number of days and hours allocated as your holiday period. You also need to evaluate whether there are other limitations around holidays. Some companies usually request that holiday days should be used between a certain time of the year. 

Sick leave is typically subject to the minimum legislation in the land. You should also check terms around getting paid during holidays and sick leaves.  For contractors, you may not be entitled to any benefits or sick leave from your employer. The company hiring you will only pay you the agreed-upon wages for your services but other benefits, such as health insurance, need to be processed independently. 


5. Restrictive covenants

Restrictive covenants, also known as restrictive clauses, usually don't apply during your tenure with an employer but only take effect after contract termination. However, you need to familiarise yourself with the stipulated terms before signing the contract. Restrictive covenants are normally designed to protect the employer's business, employees, and clients.

Some of the restrictive covenants include a non-compete clause, non-solicitation, non-dealing clause, and non-poaching clause. You should check whether this section defines the sectors, types of businesses, and geographic limitations you'll be working in. 

You need to make sure that restrictive covenants aren't negatively impacting your future job opportunities. For instance, you might be prohibited from working for a competitor company for a certain duration. 

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This post was written by: Rob Jones, Recruitment Director at Airswift