Advice and Tips
Your employment contract checklist
Before starting any new job, you should have an employment contract which spells out the rights you and your employer each have with regard to your working relationship. You should read through your employment contract carefully before signing it.
According to Working Environment Act § 14-5, all employees are entitled to have a written employment contract with their employer. The Working Environment Act § 14-6 defines this contract’s minimum requirements.
The following is a checklist containing points you should be aware of before signing your employment contract.
Important points to remember before signing your employment contract
Subject to changes
Be aware of wording that gives your employer the right to make changes to the contract without getting your approval first. This especially applies to your work tasks and workplace location. Words and phrases such as «currently», «applicable at all times» or similar increase your employer’s management rights. So, if you want predictability when working under these conditions, you should bring this topic up for clarification.
An employer usually has the unilateral right to make changes to pension plans, insurance policies and bonus plans.
- Work tasks
Your employment contract must contain your job title and/or a job description. We advise you to get an employment contract with a job description that’s as detailed as possible, as this will limit your employer’s possibility of making changes to your work tasks without your consent.
Alternatively, a separate job description may be created for you; this description must be spelled out in your employment contract.
Make sure that your contract specifies what’s defined as a workplace, and if your employer expects you to travel for work or be stationed away from home. We recommend that your “workplace” be described in the most concrete way possible. For example, if the stated workplace is Asker, it’ll be more difficult for your employer to decide that you’re to start working in Ås than if your workplace is specified as being Viken County.
If you have to travel for work, you should ask about how much travel will be required and where you’ll have to go. You should also ask about if you’ll be compensated for travel time outside of your normal work hours.
Tekna’s opinion is that travel time is working time; as such, travel time must be reported and compensated.
- Work schedule
Your employment contract must contain information about your daily and weekly schedules, including your actual work hours (for example 8:00 – 16:00). You and your employer should clarify if you have the right to a flexible schedule that includes the right to get paid time off.
- Type of employment
The law states that you’re to be permanently employed. If you’ve been temporarily employed, your employment contract must state how long you’ll be employed and why you’re being employed on a temporary basis.
Compare your salary offer with our statistics. Note that there are variations in average salaries when it comes to different branches, regions, etc. Salary levels are always negotiable. You and your employer should agree on a date for discussing an annual salary adjustment, and this information should appear in your employment contract.
Be aware of the fact that bonuses are variable benefits that you can’t count on as regular income. An employment contract often contains the phrase «bonus plan applies at all times», which means that an employer has the unilateral right to make changes to any bonus plan.
Read our advice on bonus plans
- Overtime pay
Check to see if your position includes overtime pay. The law states that most employees are to be given overtime pay; only employees that have senior/particularly independent positions may be exempted from laws on working time and overtime. Tekna’s experience is that provisions regarding exemptions from this law are being used more broadly than how it was originally intended to be used.
We believe that it’s quite rare for recent graduates to have a job where they’re so self-reliant and independent that they can be placed in the “senior/particularly independent positions” category.
Read our article on senior and particularly independent positions.
It’s normal for Tekna members to receive 5 weeks of holiday and 12 % holiday pay. According to The Holiday Act, you’re entitled to 4 weeks and 1 day of holiday and 10.2% holiday pay per year.
- Deductions in salary and holiday pay
The right to make deductions in an employee’s salary and holiday pay is strictly regulated in The Working Environment Act § 14-15 (3); doing so requires your employer to have a prior written agreement with you on this matter regardless of what’s written in your employment contract.
You should be aware of this information in case deductions are made to your salary and/or holiday pay at any time during your employment period.
- Pension and insurance
You should take the time to learn about your organization’s pension plans and insurance policies. These plans are collective in nature and as such are often non-negotiable. An employer must by law offer a defined contribution pension plan with a minimum contribution of 2%. Maximum rates are 7% up to 7.1 G and 25.1% up to 12G.
Very few Tekna members have a lower savings rate than 5% of their income. If your organization’s pension plan’s «worse» than this, you can use this point as leverage during your next salary negotiation.
Learn about pensions at Pension in Norway
The Basic Amount (= a guaranteed minimum retirement pension benefit) from the National Insurance Scheme. You can find the current Basic Amount at nav.no
- Salary in connection with illness and parental leave
You should check if you have the right to receive your full salary when you’re sick or on parental leave, as NAV only covers up to 6G in these circumstances. Many organizations pay their employees’ full salary over 6G as part of either their administrative policy or in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement. The government then refunds the organization for this amount.
- Non-competition clauses
Check if there are any restrictions on what you can work on or whom you can contact after your employment period ends. Be mindful of provisions which state that any violation of clauses will be sanctioned with a conventional fine; in other words, make sure that you’ll only have to pay a pre-agreed amount if a breach of contract takes place.
It’d be best for you to have this fine removed from your employment contract; but if a fine does appear there and – even worse for you – it’s a heavy fine, you should consider trying to negotiate a lighter fine. And if your employer ever claims that a breach of contract has taken place, you should contact Tekna’s legal department.
Read our article on non-competitive clauses
- Intellectual property rights
It’s common for an employment contract to contain provisions about patentable inventions, intellectual property, design, software, etc. So your employment contract should state that 1) your employer has the right to use only what is directly connected to your work tasks and 2) this usage directly relates to your organization’s business area.
You must decide for yourself how important this point is to you based on your job and interests outside of work. If this is indeed important to you, and you have questions about how to move forward, please contact Tekna’s legal department.
Read more about intellectual property rights
- Giving notice
It’s normal to have a 1-month notice during your trial period and a 3-month notice after this trial period is over.
In addition to reading your employment contract, it’s important that you become familiar with all of your organization’s documentation – including its personnel handbook, local agreements and steering documents – as soon as possible. Remember that in contrast to your employment contract, your employer can make changes to the personnel handbook at any time without employee consent.
Do you have any questions?
If you have any questions or want to get more detailed feedback on your proposed employment contract before signing it, please send it to Tekna’s legal department for an evaluation.