5 Things to Consider Before Signing Your New Contract

5 min read

By Jonathon  Walmsley


They say don’t sweat the small stuff, but in the case of a legally binding document like a job contract, reading the small print may just save you some headaches in the future. The opportunity to immediately ‘sign on the dotted line’ once a new job contract lands in your inbox may be very tempting – particularly if it’s a progression in your career from a job that you are ready to move on from – but should you sign straight away? A job contract is a legal document that requires careful consideration before signing away. Whilst throughout your career you may have signed various different employment contracts, no two are the same particularly if your new role is of senior level with leadership responsibility. So, here are 5 key things to consider before signing your new contract:

Have You Defined Your New Role and Responsibilities?

This is often overlooked when signing a new employment contract, and possibly one of the most important. So, you interviewed for a management position, but this isn’t reflected within your contract, it says ‘lead’ not ‘manage’? It is crucial when reviewing a new job contract that there are clearly defined roles and responsibilities, as well as the correct job title, so the goal posts can’t be shifted once you’re in the position.

If the business is an umbrella company and has several separate units that make up the structure, be sure that you are signing a contract with correct employer. This might seem obvious but can be an easy mistake. You don’t want to be a position in the future where another business that you have no control over goes into liquidation, along with your employment contract.

If there are arbitrary terms within the contract, this is the time to iron out these details and make sure to raise any concerns with the HR contact or hiring manager before you sign anything.

What is the Salary and Other Benefits?

Even if the salary within your offer letter is exactly what you wanted, it is still important to make sure you understand how this salary will be paid, and what the terms are for further benefits. It’s essential to understand what the company’s payment structure is, as this can differ in terms of timing (monthly, bi-weekly, weekly) and even payment method (bank transfer/cheque) from company to company.

It’s also worth checking out how further financial incentives may be achieved within the role for example, is the commission or bonus structure performance-based and if so, how would this be measured and by who? These details may seem quite far in the future but understanding them early on makes for less surprises when the time comes to review them.

If other taxable benefits have been mentioned or negotiated, such as a company car, flexible working or a pay review after passing a probation period then it is even more sure that you read through the terms and conditions within the contract. Due to company car tax, depending on which car you’re offered, it may be considerably more expensive to lease through the business than it would personally. So, it’s important to check the conditions as it isn’t always a viable option as it will more than likely impact the amount of tax that you pay.

Do You Know Your Holiday Entitlement?

Although you may not have a holiday in the pipeline, or even thinking about one at the time of starting a new job, understanding your entitlement should still be on your radar at the time of reviewing a contract. Again, even if this information was outlined in your offer letter, it’s still wise to double check this is detailed within the contract, after all, taking well-earned breaks is key to a refreshed and happy workforce. It would also be worth checking if you get an increase in holiday for years served at the company.

If, for example, taking time off over Christmas is important to you, you need to define with the hiring manager if you will be prevented from taking time off over busy periods and make sure this is outlined within the signed document.

Have the Hours and Location of Work Been Discussed and Agreed?

It may seem insignificant to review the hours and location of the job, after all it may be your dream job, but it could affect your work-life balance if you do not read the fine print before agreeing to the terms and conditions. Careful consideration should be taken when reviewing your new working hours, particularly in a more senior role when the term ‘work all necessary hours’ crops up – this is where it is equally important to review your new responsibilities against the hours to determine if there is an equilibrium.

Additionally, you should review the terms of where you perform your duties and if this is likely to change in the future. If you discussed remote or flexible working in your interview but see no mention of this in the contract, this should be flagged up before you sign. If flexible working is necessary for you to perform your duties well, whilst juggling your family commitments, it could be a deal breaker if this benefit was quashed or overlooked. Your contract should clearly determine when and where you can carry out your job role.

What Is Your Notice Period and Are There Any Restrictive Covenants?

Even if you see your new job developing into a long-term career within the company, things can change and it’s well worth reviewing the terms listed under your notice period and any restrictions after you leave. For example, if there’s an unnecessarily long notice period or undue terms with regards how long after termination of employment that you can work for a competitor, then it’s wise to negotiate or at least discuss these terms with the hiring manager before you commit to something that later down the line you may come to regret.

Beginning a New Chapter

While starting a new job can feel like an exciting new chapter is about to unfold, it is key to consider the above factors within your contract before you sign. It’s crucial to take the time to review the job contract and list any elements that are either missed out or not quite right and ask the hiring manager for clarification before making the final decision to sign your new contract.

CSG’s expert consultants are committed to ensuring that you as a candidate receive the highest quality service. We strive to understand your complete career requirements, desires and personal preferences to ensure that the role is the right fit for you.

Our consultants are available to offer expert advice and industry knowledge to assist you with the interview process. If you are looking for a new career or a change in job, why not check out our global talent experts to see which of our recruitment consultants can assist you with your next career move.