1. Start (and end) date
At some point throughout the job application process, you and the employer will have agreed upon your start date, so check that it as you expected on your employment contract.
The contract may reflect ongoing employment, a FTC (fixed term contract), or sometimes a minimum duration, with the possibility of extending it.
Read this carefully to check that everything in the agreement is as you thought.
2. Job title, job description, and responsibilities
Your job title and job description should be exactly the same as the role you applied for.
Make sure that the key responsibilities are as you understood – you don’t want to realise in your first few weeks that the role is not as you originally expected.
The contract might also include the team you will be working in, and the line manager or employer to who you will report to.
3. Salary and bonus
An employment contract should include the salary that you will receive for your work.
The salary shouldn’t come as any surprise, and through your discussions with the employer, you should already be aware of what you will be receiving.
It may also include additional incentives like bonuses (which could either be guaranteed – usually the case in sales graduate jobs or business development graduate jobs, or discretionary, where the terms of the bonus are not disclosed in advance).
Make sure that everything on the employment agreement is as you thought.
4. Benefits package
Your employment contract will also include all the benefits of the role – such as health insurance, share options, and perks.
If the employer has told you about a particular benefit or perk throughout the job application process, and you can’t see on the contract, mention it to the employer – chances are it’s been missed off by accident.
5. Hours of work
Your employment contract will also include the hours and days you’ll be expected to work.
If the role requires you to work unusual hours such as weekend shifts or particularly early starts, you will already have been informed about these at some point throughout the application process.
In this case, the employment contract should include the time-in-lieu policy.
You might not have already been informed about the working hours if they are more typical (such as 9am – 5pm, 9.30am – 5.30pm or 9am – 6pm) – so read these carefully and contact the employer if you have any questions.
6. Holiday days and holiday pay
This may be something you don’t already know about the role, so it’s important to read it clearly.
When reviewing your employment contract, look to see how many days of holiday you are entitled to, when the holiday year starts and ends, and whether you can carry the holidays over to the next year.
Your holiday allowance may vary greatly on the role, company and sector – but for entry-level graduate jobs, usually sits around the 20-28 day mark.
7. Contractual sick pay
The employment contract will usually also include information regarding sick pay.
This isn’t a legal requirement, so if you can’t see anything about it on the agreement it’s a good idea to contact the employer to ask for more information.
8. Confidentiality agreement
Sometimes a contract will include a statement about confidentially – and be aware that you will occasionally be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement, too.
This might be the case in PR graduate jobs, marketing graduate jobs, and finance graduate jobs – so don’t be alarmed if this is a feature of your contract.
9. Restrictive clauses
Depending on the nature of the work, there will be restrictive clauses that prevent you from going to work for a competitor or poaching a company’s clients.
Though it’s nothing to be worried about, make sure you are aware of any restrictive clauses on the agreement that might impact you in the future.
10. Probation period
A probation period is a trial period, usually around 3-6 months, which allows an employer to assess an employee’s suitability and performance.
There is no law relating to probationary periods, however, you will usually find that most graduate employers will include them in employment contracts. Look out for the length of your probation, and make sure you know your rights.
In case of an unfair dismissal during this period then it’s important to understand the implications of constructive dismissal to protect your rights and ensure fair treatment in the workplace.
11. Notice period
There are two types of notice period – a statutory notice period, and a contractual notice period.
Statutory notice period is the minimum notice that can legally be given, and a contractual notice period is the length of time that the employer has stated that an employer must give as notice of their departure – usually 1 month.