The Small Print

A verbal offer may be made to you initially, but before doing anything like handing in your notice, wait for the written offer and contract. This will also give you time to consider whether the job and the employer is right for you.

A contract of employment will normally be sent out along with the offer letter. This is an agreement between two parties, enforceable by law, and is a contract for services. The key points to look out for are:
  • Make sure your start date in the contract is the same day as you have been told.

  • Check the salary is the same as you have agreed with the company.

  • Make sure you understand the notice period you have to give the company if you resign. Some companies will ask you to give them more notice if you resign than they will give you if they terminate your contract.

  • Check that your place of work as stated in your contract is the same as you have been told.

  • Check the contract includes a section on holiday entitlement and the company's policy on public holidays.

  • If your contract states you are entitled to 20 days holiday entitlement, make sure the contract also outlines how these holidays are accrued, eg, 1.67 days per month or 1.5 days per month and an additional one day for every six months worked.

  • Check the contract contains the company's policy on overtime.

  • Make sure you fully understand the terms of the contract where you may have to reimburse the company for training or other costs if you leave within a predefined period.

  • If you have been offered a relocation package, check that the details of this are included in the contract of employment. Confirm with the company if this will be taxable.

  • Check whether your offer is subject to any conditions, ie, receipt of satisfactory references or a medical report from your doctor.

  • Check whether your contract includes a probationary period, ie, where you or the company can terminate the contract within a predetermined period (usually three to six months) without giving notice as contained in the contract.

  • If you are unsure about anything in your contract, or want to know further details about a certain clause, phone the company and ask them to discuss it with you.

  • Finally, once you are happy with your contract, remember to sign and return it to the company. Keep a copy for your own future reference.

Certain terms are implied, which means they are either too obvious to mention, they are necessary to make the contract workable, (eg, a driver for the company would hold a valid driving licence), or they have been adopted over a period of time, through established custom and practise.

Getting Paid
In order to get paid, you will normally need to provide your bank details and your P45 from your last employer. This should be done as soon as possible in order to make sure you get paid. If you join part-way through a month and have missed the payroll cut-off date, most companies should give you a salary advance, which will automatically be deducted from your first salary payment.

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