So you ensured your social profiles were squeaky clean, wrote up the best resume you could muster, aced your interview, and landed a great new position. With all the excitement of the job search being over, it’s easy to get excited and sign whatever the new boss puts in front of you. Not so fast – read the fine print, and check for these important clauses that might come back to haunt you later.
Termination clause / notice period – make sure that there is a clause specifying a specific notice period so that you are protected if the contract is brought to an abrupt end.
Your own notice period – how much time do you have to give? Eventually you will leave, ensure that it is fair, and not 3 months (or longer). Ensure that your notice period is not excessively long for your position. You don’t want to miss out on future amazing job opportunities because of an unfair contract.
Non-compete clause – do you have one? How restrictive is it? Making sure you won’t take all the company secrets to a competitor is fair, but ensure that the clause won’t prevent you from working in your field. A former employer should not be able to force you out of the field that you have been working hard to become an expert in.
Exclusivity clause – make sure this won’t prevent you from doing non-competing projects. If you want to start a side business, have a part time position have or be involved in a project with no relevance to this job, you should be free to do so.
In addition to the big questions, make sure that the basic housekeeping issues are clear and correct. Ensure there aren’t any spelling errors in your name on official forms, as that can cause a major headache later, and ensure that how many sick days versus how many vacation days you have is clear (including whether your sick days have any impact on the vacation you are permitted to take).
If you find that the contract is not to your liking, you have a few options. You could tell the recruiter or hiring manager that you are not comfortable with a certain aspect of the contract, or reach out to a lawyer to be advised on your rights. Employment lawyers may not be as expensive as you think. Searching the web is also a great resource. As a Canadian, you have a lot of employment rights (for instance, legally, some details in contracts like requiring 1 month of notice is not binding). Being aware of your rights is always a good idea, especially when at the bargaining table.