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6 things you should always check before signing a contract of employment

April 7th, 2017

After finally receiving that coveted job offer, the last thing you’ll probably be thinking about is the terms laid out in your employment contract. However, you should take some time to read over the document thoroughly before you sign, so that you know exactly what you’re letting yourself in for. These documents usually contain legal jargon and difficult-to-understand information, so read on for our simplified list of things you should look out for.

  1. Check your salary

You should make sure that the salary you and your employer agreed upon is clearly stated in the contract. If it’s lower, then this should be a warning signal for you not to sign until you find out why. Your contract should also tell you how and when your salary will be paid, and what the stipulations are for any bonuses, incentives and travel expenses.

  1. Job Title and Job Description

Make sure that your contract states your Job Title and that this is the title that you agreed. Your contract should also give a brief outline of your role, responsibilities and the duties that your employer expects you to carry out, check that this is in line with your understanding of the job role and what you expected before signing your contract and accepting the role.

  1. Notice period

You should also make sure the details of your notice period are included in the contract. This period applies to both the employer and the employee. The employee must work the specified notice period before they can leave, and the employer must give the employee this notice period before terminating their contract. However, there are certain exceptions. If you’ve been asked to carry out a probationary period, the notice will be much shorter during the probationary period. Furthermore, if you have been found guilty of gross misconduct, your employer can terminate your contract without giving a notice period. However, the terms that constitute gross misconduct should be written into your contract.

  1. Start Date and Working hours

Ensure that the date on which your employment began is clearly documented, this is important as in order to bring certain claims in an Employment Tribunal you must have a worked for the employer for a qualifying period (two years for unfair dismissal claims).

Your working hours ahould be clearly stated and ensure that you’re happy with them. If the hours are unsuitable, negotiate before signing. Your contract should also state the details of any shift patterns, weekend and evening work, and the possibility of overtime. Your contract should also state whether you will be paid for your overtime work or not.

  1. Holidays

There are several things to look for in this section. Check when your company’s holiday year begins, how many days you’re guaranteed each year, the statutory requirement is 28 days, and whether Bank Holidays are included on top of your annual holiday entitlement. You should also check whether you’re allowed to carry unused days into the next holiday year and if there are any restrictions on when you can take time off.

This section should also stipulate your entitlement to sick pay and the type of evidence that will need to be provided before this is granted.

  1. Restrictive covenants

These clauses may restrict where you can work, and who you can work for, in the future. They are used to protect your current employer. These clauses may stop you from working with a competitor for a set time after you’ve left, poaching clients for your new business and encouraging or contacting clients or other employees to come over to your new employer. If you introduced new clients to your former employer, you should clarify what your position would be when trying to transfer these to your new employer. If you break a restrictive covenant, your employer may have grounds to take legal action against you, so it’s important you act quickly. If you’d like some expert advice on the scope of the covenants set out in your contract or any other aspect of employment law, then let our employment services team help you.

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