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Employment Contract: Understanding what you're Signed

Employment Contract: Understanding what you have Signed

It's More than a Piece of Paper

How many times have you blindly signed a contract after being offered a job? Most of us don't even consider what is written on that piece of paper until something goes wrong. 

We're in the era of blind faith, we click acceptance to any set of terms and conditions, just assuming nothing will come of it. Whilst most of us have a rough idea what types of things are including in a contract, a large proportion of us don't even know there are difference types of contracts. 

According to a survey from Protecting.co.uk only 1 in 166 workers actually reads their contract, that's a worrying statistic. An employment contract isn't just a formality or tick box exercise, it's your legal agreement between you and your employment (the word legal is in that sentence so it's best you review it.)


Types of Employment Contracts

Types of Contracts

Let's begin by saying there is more than one type of employment contract, dependant on your job, the organisation you work within or even your level of role there will be differences. 

Below are the types of contracts you could be offered:
  • Full Time or Part Time Permanent 
  • Fixed-term 
  • Agency staff
  • Freelancers, Consultants and Contractors
  • Zero Hour

Full details of each type of contract can be found on the government website but it's important to first recognise which contract you currently fall within. 

If you haven't received any contract or offer communication at all then you need to be speaking with that business' HR team or your line manager to access that information straight away.


Read before you Sign Your Contract

Read Before Signing

You need to review your contract before your first day of employment and further to that asking an employer to send across this information for your acceptance prior to you even handing in your notice at your current employment.

Once you've signed, agreeing to those specific terms it will be harder to change so take your time and make sure you're happy with everything laid out. 


Understand the Terms of your Contract

Understand your Terms

The terms of your contract include things such as your holiday entitlement, salary and hours of work, breaks, sick payments, job duties and more. 

Never assume that what was briefly discussed in a conversation during the recruitment process is definitely in your contract, make sure everything is as you agreed. 

For example, if the role was advertised at £20,000 but you stated you wouldn't accept anything less than £22,000 be sure that this is what your contract states. You don't want to get any nasty surprises especially with things such as sick payment as it's little too late to find out a company doesn't have company sick pay, the day you need 2 months off work.


Question anything that doesn't seem Right

Question anything that doesn't seem Right

It's not just about understanding your contract and then signing, if something doesn't seem right, go back and question this before agreeing. 

It's much easier to adjust or change terms prior to starting with a company. For example, if you're not happy with your contract stating hours between 8 am - 11 pm when you agreed verbally exact hours of 9 am -5 pm then clarify this with a manager or HR.

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