By Sacha Sokhi, Solicitor in the London Employment & Professional Discipline Team
Whether you have decided to explore new endeavours or are looking to negotiate new contract terms, here are my top ten tips that you should always bear in mind:
This is often the term that most employees are interested in. You should consider whether there is scope to negotiate this before you sign the contract and think about whether the salary that you are being offered is reasonable for your particular industry and level. You can look at online reviews and speak to recruiters to try to get an understanding of this.
Your contract may state that pay reviews will occur periodically, but it is a good idea to ensure that this is annual and, if possible, for the date of the first pay review to be clearly stated within the contract. You could seek a guaranteed raise or a minimum inflationary pay rise.
You should check if your bonus is contractual or discretionary. If your bonus is linked to your performance or meeting targets then these should be clear and achievable.
Are you reporting into an appropriate manager for your level and seniority? You should think about whether you have or should have junior colleagues reporting to you and if so, what level of supervision is expected of you. If you have a dotted line into a second manager you need to consider carefully how that will work in practice.
Place of work
Since the pandemic, many employers now encourage remote working, however your contract should reflect the flexibility you require. You should also ensure that any requirements to travel abroad or work from a different location, including the class of travel, are acceptable to you. Your place of work should not be able to be changed unreasonably and ideally should be agreed with you in advance.
Hours of work
Consider whether your hours are reflected accurately in the contract and whether this leaves room for flexibility as required. If your role often requires overtime, your contract should clearly state whether this is expected and if so, whether you will receive additional remuneration.
Job title / description
It is important that your job title and description reflects the role you applied for and the level of responsibility that you are expecting. Whilst there is likely to be some flexibility required here, you want to ensure that the role you have agreed to is what will be expected of you and that your role cannot be unreasonably altered.
Whilst it may not form part of the contract itself, you should request a copy of the staff handbook to review the policies that you will be expected to work under. Some staff handbooks contain parts which are contractual. Many employers have recently adapted their family leave and agile working policies to allow for greater flexibility and it may be important to you to know what type of organisation you are joining.
Restrictive covenants are also referred to as post-termination restrictions and are often ignored at the time of signing a contract, when leaving the role is far from your mind. However, it is important for your career to understand and, if required, negotiate the restrictions on your future employment. You may be able to negotiate on the clarity, length of time or geographical scope of the restrictions. It is a good idea to take legal advice before embarking on any negotiation as to whether the restrictions are likely to be enforced by the courts.
Again, this is often overlooked as leaving your role is not an immediate concern when signing the contract. However, consider whether your notice period is too short or onerously long, bearing in mind your seniority and profession. You should also look out for any probationary periods which often have a much shorter period of notice.
If you have been offered a new role and would like our employment experts to review and advise on your employment contract terms, then please contact us in confidence for an initial discussion.