Going through a long contract might be the last thing you want to do before celebrating your new job. However, holding the champagne celebration to read the contract will be the best thing you can do in your new position. You want to know exactly what you are getting into and where you need to negotiate.
Here are some key elements to look for in your new employment contract. With all types of contracts, some of these can vary depending on your country of residence.
1. Job title and description
It is important to ensure that your contract matches the LinkedIn description you applied for. Knowing your job title and description will allow you to manage the scope of your work. The description should be detailed and precise. Before signing your contract, you may want to ask if this description includes all tasks that will be delegated to you so you are fully aware of all duties within your roll. This will also give you future negotiating power when or if your scope of work drastically changes.
2. Employment status
Know what type of employee you are. If you believed that you were being hired as a full time employee but the contract states that you are a consultant, full-time contract, or independent employee, the assumed contract will greatly change. Factors such as pension, benefits or job security will be affected by your employment status.
3. Salary and bonus
This may be the first thing everyone looks for in their contract because it is normally the deciding factor of accepting the position – salary and bonus. Based on the other details within the contract, you can negotiate your pay to what you feel is deserved. Apart from the salary or wage rate, in this section you need to focus on factors such as overtime pay and vacation entitlement. Make sure to understand that this section answers questions such as; how many holidays are you entitled to? What is this entitlement based off of? Are there blackout periods for taking holidays? Can I carry over holidays to the preceding year?
4. Probation period
Though you may see this position as a long-term career, keep in mind the probation period stated and the cause of termination. Understanding the difference of “just cause” and “without just cause” can provide you leverage while negotiating. “Just cause” means that the employer must have solid reasoning for firing you, whereas “without just cause” means that your employment can be terminated at any time and for any reason. The determination of the above will also determine the notice period procedure as stated on the contract. The notice period will explain how many weeks notice you and the employer must give for employment termination.
5. Intellectual property
An intellectual property clause is becoming increasingly popular even outside of creative positions. If you hold a position outside of your current contract, you need to be very careful about signing an IP clause. If you are listed as a full-time employee, anything you create, even outside of office hours, may unintentionally become the company’s property. Read and understand the IP before signing, especially if you have other work or interests outside of your current contract.
After understanding the presented contract, negotiate with your employer to receive what you believe will be a beneficial contract for both parties. Negotiating the entire contract may become more of a disadvantage than advantage. It is suggested to present your negotiation through only 1 or 2 points that you feel will truly impact your job satisfaction.
Going through every detail of your new employment contract will save you a lot of hassle in the future. Know what you are signing up for and enjoy the new position!