Before you sign that contract, consider these pointers

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By ROSE ODENGO
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The internship is over and you have been offered a full time position. Congratulations! Before you scream for joy and say yes to the job offer though, here are a few pointers you need to consider before you sign that contract. 

1. There needs to be a contract

Do not be quick to say yes if you have not seen an actual contract. Some employers make verbal promises of new terms and inform you that the contract will be provided later. Alarm bells should go off when that happens. You need to politely insist to have a look through the contract to make a final decision before commencement of work. 

2. Don’t Rush to sign the contract

The general challenge with desperation is that it clouds your judgment; at least ask for 24 hours to go through your new contract. That will allow you to fully understand the terms. If you do not have the luxury of time, then spend an hour poring through the particulars of your contract.

If there are some vague areas that need clarification, ask for an explanation.

Once you agree to the terms, sign it and ensure you date the document. Also make sure that your employer also signs and dates the document. Besides this, keep a copy as a reference point. Your contract is a legal and binding document. 

THE PARTICULARS OF THE CONTRACT 

3. Duration of Employment

Some companies may take you in as a permanent and pensionable employee, meaning you can work there until you retire at 55 or 60 years. Others may only run the position you hold for a short-term; a year or two for instance, which may or may not be renewable. You need to be clear on this. 

It is essential to be clear on the kind of work you will be doing. There are certain things that may not necessarily be in your contract, but they do happen in the office. For example, maybe it is a tradition for the new employee to run the departmental errands or take minutes during meetings. It is therefore important to familiarise yourself with the cultural aspects in the organisation. That said, some of these practices might seem innocent, but you may find that some bosses or colleagues might take advantage of it and make you their personal errand person. Unless this is your scope of work, you need to draw the line early enough. 

Do you work nine hours; from 8am to 5pm or is it from 9 am to 5pm? And how long is your lunch break? This is a simple and straight forward issue, but it tends to be overlooked. You need to get work hours right because people have been fired over this.

6. Departmental structure and hierarchy

In any job, there is always someone to report to; is that clear on the contract? Even if the organisation you work for is more laissez faire; with no particular direct boss, you still need to know who you report to. There is nothing worse than having to send a single report to six people who feel that they are your boss and force you to do the same work multiple times. That is why you need to identify that single individual you answer to. That way, they too are also aware of it. 

What benefits are available to you apart you’re your salary? Is medical insurance, pension plan, overtime or paid leave covered? If not, then what? Are you willing to make that compromise. There is no need for signing a contract only to start whining about it a few months later.

You need to be aware of what the industry rates and terms are. You also need to be aware of the size of the company. A Startup and Small enterprise cannot offer you the benefits that a medium-sized and multinational company can afford. You need to do your homework and understand your future employer thoroughly. 

You can earn an enviable salary, but if you are doing a job that requires seven people to execute, and answering to five people with few or no benefits, then that job is not worth it. You need to factor in all the other details to determine if they are commensurate to the work and hours you will put in. In some cases, a higher salary may be offered, but you will need to put in place your own pension and health insurance plan. Are you content with that? That is why you need to negotiate. You might take home less, but enjoy certain important benefits. 

You further need to be wary of the fact that most entry level positions do not pay much. Do not expect Sh500, 000 as starting salary because you have an engineering degree for instance. Your work first needs to be reviewed and evaluated to determine if your input really is worth the income. This is why employee annual reviews are done: to evaluate productivity. 

10. Employment Termination

No one works at a company forever. There is a start and end date; either defined by the employer or by the employee. Whatever the case, what exactly are you entitled to? What exit benefits are you offered? This is normally dependent on the duration of service at the company. 

11. Company Intellectual Property

And what is company property? This is not just furniture and stationery. If you work in the creative and innovation fields, your job might have made you privy to certain patents or trademark agreements. How long are you bound by those after employment? How about the music, news articles or software applications you created? Are they yours or does the company own the full rights to them? These are just some of the things you need to be crystal clear about.

Don’t you feel wiser already?

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