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11 things you need to check before signing an employment contract
An employment contract is important for anyone starting a new job, since it states the rights and obligations you and your employer have with regard to one another. Make sure to read the contract proposal carefully before signing.
Here’s a list of points you should be aware of when you are about to sign a new employment contract, as well as a brief description of each point.
- Work assignments: The contract should include a job title and description of your work assignments. We recommend that the contract contains a job description that is as detailed as possible. Alternatively, a separate job description may be made which can be referred to in the employment contract.
- Workplace: Make sure the agreement specifies how the workplace is defined and whether the employer expects you to travel / relocate abroad for work. We recommend that your workplace is described as specifically as possible. For example, if the workplace is Asker, it will be more difficult for the employer to decide that you should start working in Ås than if the workplace is stated as the county of Viken.
- Duration of employment: The main rule should be steady employment; that is, the employment contract is valid until terminated by either you or the employer. The Working Environment Act accepts temporary employment in some cases. If the job is temporary, the employment contract should contain information about the expected duration and basis for the temporary employment.
- Working hours: The employment contract should include information about the number of daily and weekly working hours, as well as when they are to be worked (e.g. 8AM-4PM). You should clarify with the employer if you have the right to flexible working hours with the right to alter your workday start and finish times. You should also inquire if you are compensated for the time you spend travelling in connection with work outside of regular working hours. Tekna believes this is working time and as such must be registered and compensated.
- Overtime pay: Check if the employer pays overtime and how much overtime is expected. The main rule is that overtime must be paid, and only employees in senior or independent positions may be exempted from the rules on working hours and overtime. Tekna's experience is that this exemption from paying overtime is used to a greater extent than the law provides. Our belief is that new graduates are rarely this independent and should not be placed in this category.
- Salary: You can always negotiate salary. An annual salary adjustment should be agreed upon in the employment contract. If you have a Master's degree in STEM subjects, your salary should be close to Tekna's salary statistics.
- Holidays: Getting 5 weeks of holiday and 12% holiday pay is common for Tekna members. According to the Holiday Act, you have a minimum holiday requirement of 4 weeks and 1 day and 10, 2% holiday pay.
- Pension and insurance: The employer is required to have a defined contribution pension scheme with a minimum employer contribution of 2%. Most Tekna members have a better pension scheme than this, and few Tekna members have a scheme lower than 5% of their income. If the company where you have been offered a job has a "poorer" pension scheme than this, you can use this as an argument in your salary negotiation. You should also do research on which insurance policies are covered by the employer.
- Sick pay and parental leave: Receiving full pay during sickness and parental leave is an important right which must be agreed upon. NAV covers sickness and parental leave benefits up to 6 G, which as of June 2019 amounts to NOK 599,148. If you earn more than this, you should have a contract with your employer to receive full compensation. If you have agreed to this, your employer will cover the difference between NAV's payments and your
- Non-compete agreement: Check if you have any restrictions on what you can work with or whom you can contact after the employment relationship ends. You can read more about competition restrictions here.
- Bonus: If the company has a bonus scheme, the bonus deal should be stated in writing. These terms are often included in the employee handbook.
In addition to the work contract itself, it is important that you familiarize yourself with all other information sources as early as possible, such as the employee handbook, local agreements and management documents. Keep in mind that unlike the employment contract, the employer may change the employee handbook at any time and without employees’ consent. We therefore recommend that you try to include as many conditions and benefits as possible in your employment contract.
Do you have any questions?
If you have any questions or would like more feedback on the contract proposal before signing, you can send it to Teknas legal department.