5 things to check before signing your employment contract
Finally! You have found your next job. The culture is great, the salary is spot on, and you’ve got all the required skills and capabilities to really achieve success at this company.
Your final step is signing your name on the dotted line of your contract and setting it in stone. But before you do, consider going through a very thorough checklist to ensure your employment contract is everything it’s supposed to be.
Details of jobs differ between companies, as do certain stipulations around what is expected of you in other areas. Don’t assume all companies are the same! After all, you don’t want to end up as one of the 85% of Malaysians who are unhappy in their job.
Take a moment to read - and we mean really read - your employment contract, and ask the right questions before you jump aboard.
1. Job description and responsibilities
You will have discussed the details of your new job during the interview process and follow-up, but you’d be surprised how often additional responsibilities get snuck into job descriptions. Most of the time this is relatively minor - but it’s worth an extra check to ensure what is presented is completely aligned with your expectations and capabilities.
The last thing you want is to sign something with an altered job description you can’t keep up with. That’s a surefire way to have a bad time!
The second thing you need to check is that the base salary and any bonuses or other compensations are in line with what you have been promised. This also includes details like medical insurance, other health benefits, travel expense reimbursements, mobile phone reimbursements, and more.
For salaried jobs, you are entitled to know exactly what dates and how frequently you will be getting paid. For guaranteed bonuses, the exact criteria on how to achieve these bonuses should be clearly defined in your contract. For discretionary bonuses, the details may not be included, but the information about a possibility for discretionary bonuses should be.
If you need to still negotiate, now is the time. Have a read about how to enter a negotiation discussion properly.
3. Start/end date, notice period, and cause for termination
Sounds simple, but you need to know where you stand before you begin and what the legalities are around completing your probation period. What is your official start date? If it is a contract role, what is your official end date or date of completion for a project? How long is the probation period, and what do you receive once you pass this date? Are the terms of full-time employment beyond probation subject to dates only, or a review with your manager also?
Your notice period matters because you (and your new employer) need time to manage affairs and organise things should you leave the job. Some notice periods are 30 days, some are 90 - and this could affect your chances at finding your next role, or how you handover things.
Causes of termination can be a variety of reasons, so read this section carefully. If you need clarification on what certain things mean, contact HR to ask. Ensure you understand what is being expected of you, and what actions (or inactions) could be the cause of termination. For example, some companies may be fine with you freelancing on the side, while others could consider any freelance work a conflict of interest and an immediate cause to fire you.
4. Holiday pay and sick leave
These are typically subject to the minimum legislation in each country - although companies have the right to extend these beyond their legal obligations if they wish to.
Beyond the number of days you can take for leave - annual or medical - you also want to know the details around carrying over leave days, terms around paying these out if you were to leave, and whether there are any restrictions around leave at certain times of the year. Make sure your expectations for all this are in line with the norm for Malaysia, so you don’t feel disappointed.
5. Working hours
Ah, the bane of every employee! How many working hours are mandatory, how many are ‘expected’ and how many hours are you able to work from a different vicinity, such as home or elsewhere?
Working hours and flexible working are a key concern for many employees today, and most companies are aware of this. Read the fine print around your 40-hour work week - do you need to work weekends? Is this expected of you? Will you be paid for overtime? What are the policies around flexible working? Are these negotiable? If you have discussed flexibility during the interview stage, ensure what is mentioned in print is aligned to your verbal agreement. Set the boundaries at the beginning so there is no room for misunderstandings.