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Things to be mindful of before signing a job contract

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There are a few important points to check before signing a job contract.
There are a few important points to check before signing a job contract.
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Getting a new job can be incredibly exciting.

However, before you sign your contract, it is important to read the fine print.

Here are five things to check before signing a job contract:

1. Salary and benefits

Before you initial the page regarding your salary, make sure that it is the number that you and your employer agreed on.

The salary may look different depending on the type of income you were discussing. Many people get confused between net income, gross income and cost to company.

A break-down of these types of income are:

Net income is the money that you take home at the end of the day. This is after any benefits (if you have any) are deducted, such as tax and medical aid.

Gross income is the number you see before any deductions have been made.

Cost to company refers to your total salary package and includes the costs of any additional benefits you have at the company.

For example, your provident fund is a separate deduction that is not included in the gross income section. Add this amount to your gross salary and you will get your overall cost to company.

In terms of other benefits, you may receive bonuses at your company. Find out if your bonus is guaranteed or discretionary.

A guaranteed bonus is when you receive extra cash regardless of your performance whereas a discretionary bonus is given to you at the discretion of your employer.

2. Leave allocation

This refers to the number of days off you will get at the company. Know how many annual leave days you will be getting per month so you know when you will be able to take a day off while working for your employer.

Take note of your sick leave as well to know when and how often you can put in leave to see a doctor.

Companies also have differing leave allocation days for family responsibility and maternity leave. Make sure what the deal is regarding how much you will be paid (if at all) during these periods.

Pay tends to differ during these different leave types, especially maternity leave. If you are planning to have a baby, make sure you know how much you will be getting paid to budget accordingly.

3. Working hours and days

Depending on your employer, you may have flexible working hours or a standard working schedule, which is when you work the same times and days each week.

However, if you have flexible hours, your employer will set out the number of hours you need to work and you can choose when you would like to start and end those hours.

Some employers offer flexible working hours, but all that may mean is that you can choose to work between two standard working schedules. For example, your employer may tell you that you can choose to work from 07:00 to 16:00, or from 08:00 to 17:00.

It is also vital to read the section on working overtime: Are you expected to work overtime, and will you be compensated for that time? If you have any questions regarding this section in your contract, speak to a member of your employer’s human resources (HR) team to get clarity.

4. Termination of contract

Make sure the reasons for possible termination of the contract are stated clearly and that you understand each point. You want to avoid a situation where your contract is terminated without warning and you are unsure as to the reason why it occurred.

In this section of the contract, you will also find your notice period if you decide to resign. The notice period for resignation, or leaving your job, will be different depending on whether you have completed your probationary period or not.

If you are still on probation (this is when you are not a permanent employee yet and are still in training), then your notice period may be shorter than when you are made permanent. Be sure to check the dates for each so that you know how much notice to give if you do decide to resign.

5. Confidentiality clause

This refers to what you can and cannot say about your work during and even after your employment.

Employers include this section to protect the company and its reputation. For example, if you work at an agency, they may tell you that you cannot share confidential information about the business as any ideas or strategies discussed at your work are competitive and your competitors could use these shared ideas to their advantage.

Additionally, this section of the contract also stipulates what you can post on social media, and usually has a “fair warning” which stipulates that, in a legal matter, the company may have the right to terminate your contract if you defame (or talk badly) about your employer or anyone else in the company.

Conclusion

Be sure to write down any questions you have and send them to HR.

It is your right to raise any concerns you have before signing and you are under no obligation to sign anything you are not comfortable with.

It is also better to get these questions out of the way early to avoid any issues further down the line.

For more career tips and advice, visit fundiconnect.co.za.

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