You got the job! You fought your way through the application process and prevailed over the competition in the interview. Or you accepted a job offer from a headhunter. Perhaps your new employment contract is the result of a reorientation within the company. Either way, whenever you have an employment contract to sign, you can and should negotiate certain points.
By Sorina Faier, Elite Searchers
1. Job title and responsibilities
You need to review the job title and duties as indicated in the employment contract. The duties should match the ones stated in the job description posting.
It would be surprising to see different job duties and responsibilities from the ones you applied and interviewed for, but, if you notice significant discrepancies, you should discuss them with the hiring manager or the human resources manager before signing the contract. If the indicated changes are not aligned with your skills or work ethics, make sure you mention this to the employer before signing the contract.
Salary is a key factor when choosing your job. It determines to a large extent whether you are satisfied with your job in the long term or not. Although a good salary cannot usually make up for an otherwise lousy working day in the long term, you will also not be happy if you go to work every day with fun and joy, but can hardly afford enough to pay the rent or have a decent living. The young specialists in particular, the so-called Generation Y, are actually considered to be particularly undemanding – at least in the material sense.
Sometimes it makes more sense to demand other benefits from the employer than a higher salary. As soon as you exceed a certain limit, your tax rate also increases and there is hardly anything left of the additional income in the end. Therefore, there are also so-called tax-free employer benefits, which you can negotiate in a new employment contract instead of salary negotiations. These include benefits such as vouchers for vacation or petrol, meal tickets, health or life insurance, private pension, fitness or health subscription.
4. Working hours and break
Working hours are certainly the second most important factor in the workplace when it comes to your level of satisfaction. For example, if you earn EUR 3,000 gross per month, it makes a big difference whether you have to work 40 or 35 hours a week. Overtime is also a problem for many workers if they have to work too often or too much. Models such as work from home or remote work are also desirable for many employees. Check also your lunch break.
5. Holiday, period of notice and probation time
As with everything else, you need to take regular breaks once you begin the new job. Before signing the contract, check the number of days and hours allocated as your holiday period. You also need to evaluate whether there are other limitations around holidays. Some companies usually request that holiday days should be used between a certain time of the year. Check also your period of notice and probation time.
Due to digitization, leisure time no longer means that you can switch off from work. In many companies it is common practice that you have to be available to your colleagues, the boss or customers outside of working hours. So, your smartphone rings at the weekend too and you even check your emails on vacation. This is not only annoying, but can become a real health burden in the long run.
7. Field of activity
You cannot only negotiate your rights in your employment contract, but also your obligations. For example, what do you owe the employer in return for the salary, which activities do you have to perform – and which not, what is your area of responsibility, what are the limits of your manager’s authority to issue directives, are there any “minor” tasks that you are actually overqualified, but your boss tells you to do them, when can you say “no”? Such definitions of your area of activity should also be recorded in the employment contract – and, of course, you can negotiate existing clauses.
8. Restrictive covenants
Restrictive covenants, also known as restrictive clauses, usually do not apply during your tenure with an employer but only take effect after contract termination. However, you need to familiarize yourself with the stipulated terms before signing the contract. Restrictive covenants are normally designed to protect the employer’s business, employees, and clients. Some of the restrictive covenants include a non-compete clause, non-solicitation, non-dealing clause, and non-poaching clause. You should check whether this section defines the sectors, types of businesses, and geographic limitations you will be working in.
You need to make sure that restrictive covenants are not negatively impacting your future job opportunities. For instance, you might be prohibited from working for a competitor company for a certain duration.