We’ve reached a fresh New Year- and with it maybe a fresh new job or business option are on the horizon for you. There’s a host of important things you need to know before signing on the dotted line, however. As always, Annemarie Swanepoel Attorneys are here with your top tips on what you need to know before signing a contract in 2019.

1.  Know what you’re going to do (and what they call it)

This may seem an odd thing to worry about- but it’s actually critically important. It’s called the ‘scope of your employment’ and it matters because it defines the duties and role you will be filling. They need to be specific and applicable to you, or you run the risk of taking on work you don’t want, too much workload, or work you are unskilled for. That will look bad on you- the last thing you want in a new job!

2.  Know when you are going to start

Make sure that the official start date matches up with your agreement so everyone is clear on matters such as expected first salary, UIF and PAYE payments and more.

3.  Know what you are going to be paid

You might think you’re on top of this one- but take the time to double check. Firstly, ascertain that the salary in the contract is what you actually agreed to. Next, make sure the date and method of payment is clearly stated. Lastly, follow up on any perks and additional parts of the package the same way- bonuses (discretionary and routine), medical aid, travel reimbursements, cell phone allowances and more.

4.  Know when you will be working

Not every job works 9-5 weekdays. Understand your basic working hours well, and make sure you also fully understand when your company can make you work overtime (and how you will be paid for it). Remember that life isn’t just about a good job- it’s important that you don’t ‘sell your soul’ for a paycheck ladened with unfairly steep overtime expectations without any fair recompense.

5.  Know when you can take leave

In South Africa, holiday and sick leave minimums are strictly laid out by the Government. Make sure your contract aligns at least with these stipulations. Understand how your leave is calculated, when you can take holidays (and if certain busy periods are restricted), and how sick leave is accrued to you.

6.  Know what you cannot do

These stipulations, known as ‘restrictive clauses’ often apply to the landscape after you leave a firm, but can come into play during your time there too. They are usually put in place to help protect the employer and guard against client poaching or other business losses. These may limit where you can work (non-competition), your ability to take clients or supplier contacts with you (non-solicitation), your ability to work with either if they approach you (non-dealing), and your ability to use the minds of colleagues you meet through your job after your termination (non-poaching). Alongside these traditional post-employment clauses, you may have to contend with restrictions on social media usage, presentation and other facets while working for the firm.

7.  Know why you may be let go

No one wants to think about this when signing a shiny new contract, but it’s still important to know. It will probably be rife with legal terminology- ask for clarification on anything you don’t understand. It’s important to fully grasp any circumstance in which you can be let go, what can trigger it, and what notice periods you have. Otherwise, you may find yourself in hot water down the line.

It’s important to read your contract (even the legal terminology) very closely before you sign, to ensure your expectations match up to reality and you have an enjoyable working experience from the very start. Focus on these seven key contract areas, and you will be well on your way to a productive relationship with your new company. Annemarie Swanepoel Attorneys wishes you the very best in your new role!