Congratulations! Starting a new job is always an exciting opportunity. If you have received an employment agreement from your new employer, it is worth taking a few moments to review the contract before accepting the job. This article will explore the key clauses that you should always check before starting a new job.
The first thing you should confirm is the type of work arrangement you are entering into with the new employer. Most employment contracts will include a letter of offer and/or a schedule that sets out the basic information in relation to the job such as:
- Position: The role description, for example, will you be a manager or an assistant?
- Employment type: Will you be a casual, part-time, or full-time employee? You should also note whether an award or enterprise agreement applies to your role. An award or enterprise agreement will affect your employment and the entitlements you are owed under the agreement.
- Term of Employment: Will your employment be ongoing or fixed term? You should ensure that you are comfortable with this status. A fixed term contract for 12 months, for example, will terminate automatically at the end of the 12-month term.
- Location of Role: This will set out where you will be working, and whether you may be required to move to another location as required for the role.
- Salary: This will set out the salary that you will be paid and should address whether the salary will include or exclude superannuation.
- Probation: This will set out whether the employment contract includes a probation period or not.
- Qualifications: The employment agreement may also require that you have certain qualifications and maintain them throughout the term of the agreement.
- Hours of Work: The employment agreement will usually set out your hours of work, for example, 38 hours for full-time and the particular days you will be working if you are part-time.
In addition to this basic information, you should ensure that you look at the key clauses which will determine your rights and obligations under the employment agreement. These key clauses include:
1. Overtime and Hours of Work
Your agreement should address if your employer requires you to work additional hours and if you will be paid overtime for these hours.
You should check your agreement for the leave entitlements that the employer provides. Some standard leave provisions which your employer may be obliged to provide you under the National Employment Standard include annual leave, and personal/carers leave. Employers may choose to provide additional paid leave as a benefit to employees.
3. Expenses and Salary
Your employer may be obliged to pay for certain expenses on top of your wage or salary. For example, if the work you are undertaking requires equipment, travel, or a vehicle, you should ensure that the agreement addresses these expenses, and there is a relevant provision which outlines the amount of allowance that the employer will owe you.
4. Work Health and Safety and Obligations
You should also ensure your agreement has a relevant workplace health and safety provision. It should outline the workplace obligations that both you and your employer will have to comply with under the law.
5. Termination and Redundancy
The agreement should set out how you or your employer can terminate the agreement. Termination of the agreement should be made in compliance with the National Employment Standards (or the relevant award or enterprise agreement). This clause will usually also set out your obligations upon termination of the employment agreement.
6. Restraint of Trade
Your contract may also include a restraint of trade clause. A restraint of trade clause will set out the specific period after termination of your agreement where you will not be allowed to compete with your employer. It may also include a non-solicitation clause which will prevent you from soliciting or poaching clients, taking other employees with you when you leave a role or interfering with the relationship the employer has with their suppliers.
Employment agreements will typically set out detailed confidentiality clauses. However, employees will have a common law obligation to maintain confidentiality even if not explicitly included in the contract.
8. Intellectual Property
Most employment agreements assign any intellectual property you create during your employment to your employer. If the agreement does not address this, your employer will still likely own any intellectual property you create.
9. Ongoing Obligations on Termination
You should be aware that the restraint of trade clause, the confidentiality clause and intellectual property clause will still be in force even after you terminate the employment agreement.
Upon receiving your employment agreement, you will likely receive some other attachments. These will include the staff handbook and other staff policies, the National Employment Standards Information Statement, superannuation and tax forms.
The staff handbook is important to review and understand. If there are any issues with your performance or behaviour, your employer can point to the staff handbook and rely on where you may not have complied.
As outlined, there are a number of key clauses in your employment agreement you should review before starting a new job. You should also be aware of your additional entitlements outside of the agreement, for example, the National Employment Standards that apply to all employees and any applicable awards or enterprise agreements.
If you are starting a new job and have any further questions, get in touch with our employment lawyers on 1300 544 755.