Job Contract – an evaluation of grey areas

Getting a job at the right time is the dream of youth. It is not an easy task. You have to obtain high marks and a respectable CGPA in your academia. Then starts the ordeal of searching and applying for suitable jobs. Getting a job is never an easy task. You surely worked hard for it. The run is over at last. You have an appointment letter in hand. An appointment letter or a job contract is often a one-way document serving the priority needs of an employer. There are always some grey areas that a potential employee needs to check.

An Acceptance

You have an obligation to provide an acceptance once you receive an appointment letter or a job contract. An appointment letter in most cases is a single-sided contract. The employer put all his conditions in it asking you to simply agree to it. You have no right to ask for the inclusion of some of your terms. You either have to accept or refuse. It is not a matter of negotiation but a YES or NO.

It however does not mean that you have to sign it without any careful reading. The reading remains relevant and careful reading is absolutely important, I must say. Passing through every sentence filled with difficult legal jargon is not anything to comprehend easily. It is one of the most boring tasks of office life. You must, at last, be aware of what you are agreeing to. Knowing your rights is as important as getting a glimpse of your responsibilities. 

The following lines will guide you a little to get aware of the red flags of a job contract or an appointment letter. 

Job Title and Description

Normally the Job advertisement provide an overview about the nature of the job. Cross-checking the job contract with the job title and job description mentioned in the job posting can clear many doubts. You must seek clarification from HR if there is any mismatching, addition, or deletion. Provide your acceptance only after getting total satisfaction.

Sometimes it is only a clerical mistake that is rectified if pointed out timely. A little carelessness in ignoring small inaccuracies regarding job title or description of duties can cost you seniority, salary, and future progress beyond the nature of duty itself. You have all the options open as to asking a clarification, re-negotiating, or walking away before you accept the offer. 

Detail of Emoluments

Hiring managers are prone to offer attractive terms that sometimes do not comply with actual offer letters. Never go for the “understood” if you are asked to. The safer way is to insist on the inclusion of all terms in the job contract. 

The job contracts are often in the prescribed format that ceases the authority of the HR team to make any amendment. In that case, it is better to have a detailed look at service rules and practices of amortization. The HR team and senior employees can be the source of information in this respect. 

Specified Work Hours. 

A job contract is expected to mention the following details of working hours. The nature of Job & duty, full-time, part-time, permanent, temporary, or contract-based.

  • The span of the probation period(if any).
  • Daily office hours and rules regarding overtime. 
  • Per week working hours (If applied). 
  • Mention of leaves, casual, earned sick and other types.
  • How the contract will renew if the job is on a contract basis? 
  • Notice period and payment options instead of the notice period in case of leaving the job. 

Restrictive Clauses 

The clauses restricting an employee from doing things that negatively impact the employer are called restrictive clauses. The following are the most common types of restrictive clauses:

Non-Compete Clause

This clause restricts an employee from shifting to an employer’s close competitor or launching a competing business soon after leaving.

Non-Solicitation Clause

An employee will not approach employees of his past employer after leaving the job. 

Confidentiality Clause

That an employee will maintain confidentiality by not sharing confidential information about the company with any other.

Ownership Clause

Any creative work or other kinds of intellectual property, an employee is doing during the job is the property of the company.

The restrictive clauses mentioned unreasonably or written in vague and lengthy language are prone to carry multiple explanations. Careful reading and understanding can help to comprehend the possible consequences of such clauses. 

Winding Up or Selling of Company

The above information normally is not included in the job contract but is mentioned in articles of association of the company. An employee only needs to know details of it if any reference to winding up and selling of a company is made in his job contract. These terms normally do not affect the job contract. 

Arbitration Clause

It is an important clause that concerns to rights of an employee. The clause stops the employee to sue the business in case he faces a legal dispute with the employer. In other words, the employee will not be able to file a lawsuit if his rights are violated. All disputes are only resolved through arbitration.

An arbitration clause suits employers as it limits an employee’s options to fight for his rights. It even limits the compensation to employees, which traditionally is less in case of arbitration as compared to cases decided in the courts. 

In Nut Shell

Getting a job as early as possible is a blessing as soon as you pass out from College/University. It is but a make or break point in your career. Job is nothing to accept in panic or hurry. You must thoroughly go through thea contents of a job contract. Fully understand each and every clause or seek help from a peers if anything it is difficult. Only sign your acceptance after developing the in-depth understanding of your obligations and terms that rule your job.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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  • The author has rich management exposure in banking, textiles, and teaching in business administration.