Employment contracts: just sign on the dotted line?

Tricky as it may seem, the best time to negotiate the terms of your employment contract is before you start. What are the key things to consider?

Fountain Pen & Paper indicating employment contracts

Starting a new job? Congratulations! You’ve made it past the hard part. This is the time to negotiate any niggles. What should you know about employment contracts?

Negotiating is the new renegotiating

When you receive a job offer, it is natural to be keen to sign the document as soon as possible.  However, if this was any other type of contract, like a tenancy agreement, we might be more likely to go through the terms and renegotiate anything we may not be completely happy with. Employment contracts are no different – you are likely to never be in a stronger negotiating position with an employer than before starting the job. The hiring company will have likely gone through an exhaustive job search and decided that you are the best person for the job. It may be prudent to take some advice regarding the terms of the employment contract before you sign.  For instance, in the current climate, provisions regarding working hours, flexibility and working from home have taken on greater importance.  Post termination restrictions and notice clauses are also important to be aware of – it can be much harder to agree for any of these clauses to be varied after you have signed.

Pastures new

If you are looking to move on from your current place of work, or even start up your own business, it may be wise to check what (if any) post termination restrictions may apply to you. These can limit the locations where you are able to work, and the nature of the work you are able to do, as well as containing prohibitions regarding dealing with previous clients/customers and suppliers. It is worth taking advice on your restraints prior to making a move. Any misstep could prove to be expensive, and potentially prevent you from taking up that fantastic new job.

Handling staff turnover

Whether you are an employer having to handle reshaping a team, or an employee at risk of losing their job, the contract is the best place to look when assessing rights such as start dates, notice periods, confidentiality, restrictive covenants and other important clauses. Getting legal advice can help with planning and budgeting for any changes.  It might be appropriate to look into entering into a settlement agreement in order to close matters off promptly.

As with all employment matters, each situation is unique; our employment team are happy to help.

This article was written by Daniel Bolster

Please note the contents contained in this article are for general guidance only and reflection the position at time of posting. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to specific matters.

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