Ask HR: What exactly should I look out for in a new job contract?

Ask HR: What exactly should I look out for in a new job contract?
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I have friends who signed job contracts and ended up working in environments where they felt like they were enslaved and the employer could fire them without notice. What key aspects should I look for in a job contract before I sign up for a job to ensure I don't get short changed?

The contract must have the terms of employment clearly stipulated to avoid any conflicts especially in the calculation of final dues when staff are exiting the organisation. The terms include the salary and benefits you are entitled to as well as when exactly the salary is payable every month. The statutory deductions you are eligible for should also be included for avoidance of doubt.

The world of work has changed and the focus has moved to productivity rather than the number of hours worked. However, it is still important for the contract to stipulate the working hours as well as days of the week that you should take a break. The law provides for a minimum of one rest day in seven days.

If the rest day is not taken, the employer is obligated to pay for the day at double the hourly daily rate for the hours worked. In the long run, this is expensive for the employer and also causes burnout to the employee. The best option is having a shift pattern that accommodates rest days for all the employees even if it means distributing the rest days through the seven days period. Sick offs should also be taken into account.

The minimum leave days’ provision in Kenya is 21 working days earned within one year, and prorated for short term contracts. However, most organisations pay above the minimum requirement. This should also be in the contract. Most employees don’t read their notice obligation, so when the employer terminates their contract, they don’t understand their right to be given notice. The notice obligation, both from the employee and employer, can be converted to cash which is paid in lieu of notice.

Employees are required to keep the company’s private information confidential. However,  when this is no longer tenable, the best approach is to part ways amicably and ensure that each party meets their end of the bargain. If the employee feels aggrieved, they can see arbitration, first with the employer. If this fails, the Ministry of Labour provides free services for employment disputes. Each party should have their rights protected at all times to create an enabling work environment.

Nation Media Group