Have you been offered a job? Congratulations! Before you start there are some things you definitely need to know, and don't assume your new employer will tell you.
Employment contracts serve as a record of your employment terms. Your written contract also legally indicates that you agreed to the terms and conditions of your work.
The basic idea of an employment contract is simple. Your employer agrees to pay you a certain amount of money to do a job, and you accept that deal. In return your employer expects to get, as part of the bargain, your exclusive loyalty, your availability when they need you, and your efficiency in doing the job.
Employee contracts do not necessarily need to be in writting, they can be formed in a number of different ways. For example they could be:
- verbally agreed
- in an employee handbook or on a company notice board
- in an offer letter from your employer
- implied terms
An employment contract is made as soon as you accept a job offer. This is called the date of 'offer and acceptance'. If you start work it will show that you accepted the job on the terms offered by the employer, even if you didn't understand them.
The contract may be implied if you are given work according to a set of rules and your behavior shows agreement.
Many employers say they don't need a written contract, but it's a good idea as it prevents problems. An employment contract can be short and simple or long and detailed. But it must contain some basic information. You need to know what employment rights you have under the contract, for example in relation to your start date of your employment, notice periods you need to give before leaving, what you are required to do each day and leave entitlements. In addition, if there are any areas where an employer will make changes to your employment terms in the future, these areas should also be covered in the employment contract. There should also be details of disciplinary procedures, grievance procedures and dismissal procedures set out in the contract.
The law is more protective of employees than it is of employers. It offers lots of protections for employees.
NB: Never sign anything before you read or understand it, even if it’s being waved under your nose and you look like a loser for refusing.
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