Starting a new job is an exciting time, and a chance to enjoy a fresh beginning. You’ll want to get your feet under the desk as quickly as possible as you take on your new responsibilities. But what if it turns out that the job isn’t quite as advertised, or you’re suddenly being asked to work unexpected hours?
Both of these things, along with much more, will be covered in your contract of employment. Even if you feel like you’ve discussed working arrangements with your employer during the interview process, it’s imperative that these agreements are written into your contract. Failing to check these details can make it more difficult for you to dispute any disagreements in the future.
Here are four key things to check before signing your contract so you can start your new job with complete confidence.
Place of work
Being clear on your primary place of work is even more important in light of recent events, which have shaken up working arrangements for many professionals. If you have discussed the opportunity for remote work with your employer, then make sure that this is reflected in the contract. If it’s something you think you might want further down the line, then ask your employers if it’s feasible to include now, since it will be much harder to negotiate home working in the future if it’s not a part of your contract from the start.
Hours of work
Checking your working hours is one of the first things you should look for on a new contract, to ensure they align with your expectations. Ensure you are happy to work the agreed hours, and keep an eye out for any overtime clauses, where your employer might expect you to work without remuneration. If any of these things are an issue, then it’s worth addressing them with your employer to ask for clarification.
When you’re just starting out at a new job, taking time off probably isn’t the first thing on your mind, but it’s important to check the holiday entitlement at this stage to avoid any complications further down the line. It’s a legal requirement for employees who work full-time to receive at least 28 days worth of paid annual leave, which can include bank holidays.
Look for any stipulations around when you can and can’t take time off, with some companies asking you to work through certain times of the year such as the busy Christmas period. You will also need to be clear about when the holiday year runs from, so you can be sure what you’re entitled to when starting, and use this to plan any time off.
The job description isn’t always included on an employment contract, and this can present a bit of a grey area. If your contract does have a job description attached, it’s important that you feel comfortable with all of the listed responsibilities that are expected of you. Make sure the description isn’t too broad, demanding things that you weren’t aware of during the interview process. At the same time, you don’t want it to be too limited, as this could hinder your opportunity for progression.
To sum up
The vast majority of your new contract will be made up of fairly standard and straightforward processes and procedures. But before signing on the dotted line, it’s important to flag up any vagueness or ambiguity within the contract to your employer, who will be able to provide clarity, or negotiate any changes if you aren’t completely comfortable. Particularly if you’re just starting out on your professional journey, it can be helpful to talk through the contract with a trusted friend or family member, who will be able to highlight any potential issues.