You’ve applied for a job, gone through the interview process and come out the other side with a job offer – you’re feeling good and it’s time to celebrate. Now all that’s left to do is sign the contract. Many of us skim through the finer details at this stage and but it’s important to remember what to consider before signing on the dotted line.
We spoke to Bronwyn from The People Project about five things to consider before signing an employment contract.
While this should have been mentioned in the job advert and throughout the interview process, it’s good to double check the type of employment – permanent, fixed-term, or casual. Fixed-term contracts should have either a specific end date or be tied to the end of a project. Casual agreements mean the employer doesn’t have to offer you any work, and you don’t have to agree to any work either.
All employment agreements should have the Job Description listing exactly what the work is. If you aren’t sure what the responsibilities are then check other job listings with the same job title, otherwise a quick Google will also give you an idea. Then discuss and ask the employer to put this down in writing.
Hours of work
Your agreement should state what the minimum ‘contracted’ hours are, so you know at a minimum how much work you’ll receive each week or fortnight. Make sure the minimum contracted hours reflect what was discussed while being recruited. If work slows down or the employer changes their mind, they only have to offer you the minimum hours. It should also state the typical hours of work. Your exact start and finish times may vary week to week, but they should give an indication of what days of the week you may work and if there is any evening or weekend work.
Overtime should also be clarified in the agreement. If overtime is not mentioned, then New Zealand employers do not have to pay for working over the contracted hours.
Employees can negotiate the time of year holidays will be taken. Some employers will have a ‘blackout period’ during busy times so you cannot take leave. If this is the case, it should be explained before signing the agreement. Employers can also have a close-down period where they can make you take leave because their operations shut down annually; again, this may be around the holiday period. Other than that, you may request and use your holidays as you become entitled to them. All employees become entitled to four weeks of annual holidays after 12 months of employment. Annual holidays accumulate until you take them – so if you don’t take all your weeks of entitled annual leave in a year it rolls over into the next. Some employers may ask that you use your leave if you accrue too much.
Notice periods can vary between 1 to 4 weeks for most jobs, and up to 3 months for roles that are especially hard to fill or have high responsibility. You can negotiate a different notice period if you wish. Keep in mind it goes both ways: having a short notice period means you are able to leave employment faster if you need to, but also means if your employment ends through redundancy or dismissal – you only receive that short notice period from the employer.
All employees are entitled to superannuation or Kiwisaver contributions, so you should receive a Kiwisaver form with your agreement. Kiwisaver is paid on top of your pay, unless it is stated clearly in your contract.
About The People Project
The People Project are an Auckland-based virtual/outsourced HR provider. They help Kiwi SMEs primarily with their people needs, and projects for larger scale organisations.
They are specialists in employment relations, restructuring and change management, leadership development, and executive coaching. With experience working in corporates, SMEs and a business owner herself, The People Project’s director Jaime Gallocher understands how to get the best outcomes for businesses and their people needs. She leads a team of young professionals offering a modern, tailored but simple HR approach that speaks to Kiwi business owners with an authentic style.
Check out the People Project’s website here and get in touch with Jaime if you need a hand with your people through these crazy times.