The festive season and the varsity holidays span over a period of many weeks, leaving students with lots of free time on their hands. While it is important to use some of this time to kick back, relax, and reflect on the year that is (finally) behind us, it can also be used to earn some much-needed cash. If you have graduated and are in search of your first full-time job or if you are keen to take up a part-time holiday job, here’s everything that you need to know about signing a job contract and reading the fine print.
Read a job contract from start to finish, and then read it again
Never allow an employer to hand you a contract and expect you to sign it then and there. This is not a document that you should be skim reading or rushing through. Always request to take some time to work through it and to come back to them with questions should you have any as you go.
Ask for help
If after having the employer explain a clause, you still don’t understand it, approach a friend at varsity who is studying law for assistance. It is vital that you fully comprehend every written detail before signing on that dotted line.
Know what to watch out for
While every word is important, there are a few aspects included in a job contract that deserve extra attention, such as:
- Salary: Make doubly sure that the salary that appears in your contract is the same as the one discussed in your job interview. Also, make sure that you understand what you will be earning both before and after tax as there can be a significant difference between the two!
- Leave: Take note of the conditions surrounding taking your leave (how to apply, how much is allocated to you, etc.), as well as taking sick leave, family responsibility leave, and maternity leave. This knowledge will come in handy at a later stage.
- Responsibilities: Having a good idea of your daily responsibilities will help you know what is expected of you and how to impress your employer.
- Termination of employment: Familiarise yourself with the action that you need to take should you decide to resign from your job in the future. It is also vital that you know under what grounds your employer is entitled to terminate your employment.
Remember to insist upon a contract before starting any new job, regardless of how ‘casual’ it may be. Doing so could protect you from potential infringements on your rights.