New Job…New Contract…New Rules
Starting a new job can be an exciting time. It can also be a daunting time as you step into unknown territory. Having gone through an interview process you may think you know what you are signing up for, but it is hugely important to ensure that you read the Contract of Employment carefully to ensure there are no hidden surprises and to ensure that you know exactly what is expected of you. It is a legal requirement for every employee to have a written statement of terms and conditions, so employers must ensure that they supply this.
Whilst most people are probably only interested in what hours they must work and how much they will get paid there are other important elements that an employee should know before taking on a job. Knowing what is being offered helps you assess whether the job is right for you and allows you to assert your rights later down the line.
What should you be looking out for?
- Job Specification
What is your job title and what exactly are your duties within that role? Ensure that your duties are clearly defined and adequately reflect the role you are applying for so that you know what is expected of you and to ensure that you do not end up dealing with a heavier workload than you thought. The wider the job description the more flexibility the employer has to require you to a take on more work.
On top of what you are getting paid you should know how and when you will get paid. It is also helpful to know how your salary is broken down, i.e. what your hourly rate is. Your contract should also state whether you have any entitlement to a bonus and whether this is discretionary or not.
- Working Hours
How many hours must you work for your salary? Do you have to work nights or weekends? Will you be paid for overtime or will this be time-in-lieu? In some instances the working culture will mean you get neither so be clear on what the company policy is and be prepared to negotiate. If flexible working is something you want, ensure this is discussed from the outset and reflected in the contract.
- Place of Work
Be careful not to agree to anything that you do not wish to do, thinking it will never happen. You may agree to a clause stating you agree to work in a wide geographical area as you do not believe that the business would ever move. If it does move, however, and you object, your employer is in a very strong position. If your employer agrees to you working remotely from home, you should ensure the contract accurately reflects this.
You should check what your holiday entitlement is and whether this includes bank/public holidays. Will you be expected to work bank/public holidays? Are there any forced holidays i.e. the business closes the week of Christmas meaning that you are required to use your annual leave entitlement. You should also check to see if you can carry any days over to the next year so that you do not lose days.
- Sick Pay
Does the employer offer anything above Statutory Sick Pay? Knowing this in advance will ensure you are not shocked in the unfortunate event that you are off sick for a period. It also means you can plan for the future.
- Notice Period
This ensures that you are aware of the period of notice you must work before you can leave. It also means that if your employer ends your employment you know what period of notice you are entitled to.
- Restrictive covenants.
These are only applicable after you have left your employment but could hinder future job prospects or business development if they are too restrictive. They normally restrict you from working for a competitor for a period of 3-6 months but can be longer.
By having everything in writing both parties know what is expected of them and ensures that an employee can assert his or her rights should they feel that the employer is acting in a way contrary to what is stated in the contract. You should ensure that any agreed changes, eg a pay rise or a promotion, are recorded in writing so that your contract accurately reflects your current status.
Should you require advice in relation to any employment matter please contact our Employment Law department on 02890329801.