Read with care

2015-07-22 06:00

QUESTION: I was recently appointed in a new position at a company, and received my employment contract to sign. What should I look out for in my employment contract?ANSWER: You are right to be cautious about signing your employment contract.

This is a binding agreement between you and your new employer and you must understand what you are signing.

There are many potentially important terms that an employment contract can deal with, but these are my list of the five most important items:

1. The nature and description of the job

The employment contract must specify your job title and a description of the basic requirements of your work – the more specific, the better.

2. Remuneration and benefits

Your remuneration package must be included in the employment contract. It should detail what your remuneration will be, when it is payable, whether or not it includes commission, whether there will be any deductions, whether an annual bonus is payable, etc.

Any benefits you will qualify for, such as medical aid, travel allowances, pension fund, etc. must also be included and specify clearly what the respective employee and employer contributions will be.

3. Duration

Employment contracts are typically either permanent or fixed-term.

The employment contract should specify when your employment will start and when or on what terms it may terminate. In the case of a fixed-term contract, the period of the contract and the options for renewal (if any) should be clearly stipulated. If your appointment is on a permanent basis, it may also be important to note whether your appointment is subject to a probationary period.

4. Leave

Your employment contract should stipulate the various forms of leave for which you will qualify, including the requirements for taking leave.

5. Termination

Your employment contract should specify how your employment with the employer may be terminated, including the notice periods applicable, under which circumstances a party can terminate and what is expected of each party should the employment relationship be terminated.

As an employee, it is important that you take note of any restraints on your future employment, confidentiality restrictions and possibly even penalty conditions which may be applicable to you on termination of the contract.

Take the time, and where necessary, obtain legal advice to assist you in understanding your employment contract to ensure that the employment contract provides the right foundation for your future and growth in the organisation.

Nongcali Zibi, associate, Phatshoane Henney Attorneys

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